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Aviation and environment

Air transport and the greenhouse effect

Atmospheric composition is the result of natural and anthropogenic emissions combined with transport and chemical processes. Aircraft emissions can have an impact on atmospheric chemistry and on its radiative balance. For example, contrails formed from emissions of water vapour and soot particules can lead to the formation of cirrus clouds.

Emissions of nitrogen oxides perturb the natural cycles and open the way to ozone production or destruction depending on local altitude and insolation. These ozone perturbations along with the CO2 emissions, water vapour, sulphur and soot particles allow additional clouds to form and may increase the greenhouse effect. The same local perturbations are observed when a spacecraft is launched.

In this field of research, CERFACS focuses on the time-evolution of the atmospheric chemical composition and on the anthropogenic impact, especially on the effect of the chemical and particulate emissions from aviation. The AE team has developed a scientific expertise on the modelling of the effluents and their transformation in the different phases that follow the lanch of a spacecraft, in particular the transition to the “hot” chemistry located at the nozzle outlet and the “cold” chemistry for the high atmosphere.

Evaluate the impact of antropogenic emissions

In that context, the monitoring of atmospheric composition is of particular importance. The objective is to detect and possibly attribute the observed changes to natural or anthropogenic forcing. The AT team is involved in national and European projects centered on the development and the implementation of data assimilation systems, gas for trace gases and particles central to atmospheric chemistry.

The AE team is composed of about ten researchers who work closely on the national level with CERFACS associated laboratories like CNRM, ONERA teams, CNRS and aeronautical industry. The team is also involved in numerous projects, especially European projects that include the main institutions present in the atmospheric environment field.

Main partners : CNRM, CEPMMT, DLR, Latmos, LISA, LSCE, Onera

CERFACS challenge : Modest

National and international current projects :

IMPACT : climate impact of the evolution of air traffic

MACC : Data assimilation of minor constituents for the atmophere monitoring

TC2 : contrails and climate


Project director : Daniel CARIOLLE

Senior researchers :

Emanuele EMILI

Roberto PAOLI


Post-docs :


Géraldine REA

Bojan SIC

Consultants :


Philippe MOINAT

PhD :

Hélène PEIRO

Visitors :











Tribute to Françoise Chatelin

Brigitte Yzel |  23 July 2021

  Tribute to Françoise CHATELIN   Virtual & Face to Face event @ Cerfacs 14 October 2021, CERFACS, Toulouse (France) 2 pm - 6.30 pm   Cerfacs is organizing a half scientific day on Thursday October 14, 2021 in tribute to Françoise Chatelin who left us prematurely on May 14, 2020   After graduating from the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris (1960-63), and her PhD in Mathematics at Grenoble University (1971) , Françoise Chatelin led with worldwide recognition her research in many areas, from spectral theory for linear operators in Banach spaces and finite precision to Dickson algebras. Professor Chatelin taught at the Universities Grenoble 2 - Pierre Mendès-France and Paris 9 - Dauphine before moving to Toulouse in 1996. She became Emeritus Professor in 2015. She was a visiting researcher at Berkeley and Stanford Universities, IBM San Jose (Ca) and Yorktown Heights (NY). For almost a decade, she was a scientific manager in Industry (in charge of intensive computing) first at the Centre Scientifique IBM France in Paris (1985 -1992) and then in the Central Research Lab of Thales (known as Thomson-CSF at that time) near Paris (1992-95). Françoise Chatelin was Head of the Qualitative Computing group at the Centre Européen de Recherche et de Formation Avancée en Calcul Scientifique (Cerfacs) in Toulouse, France. Professor Chatelin has authored four books; the first three are now classic references available from SIAM. Her second book Valeurs Propres de Matrices (Masson, Paris, 1988) has received the IBM - France prize for « Best Scientific and technical publication 1988 ». Beyond her scientific contribution, Françoise Chatelin played a structuring role on research at CERFACS through multiple thesis on innovative topics. This event is devoted to the human and scientific tribute of her life. As a faithful image of the active and passionate woman that...Read more

CERFACS is involved in the NextSim project

CERFACS |  19 July 2021

The primary objective is to increase the capabilities of Computational Fluid Dynamics tools on extreme-scale parallel computing platforms for aeronautical design. The Kick-Off Meeting took place on 12 March 2021. This project has received funding from the European High-Performance Computing Joint Undertaking (JU) under grant agreement N° 956104. The JU receives support from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and Spain, France, Germany. For more information, please visit  EuroHPC website : Project webpage :Read more