Project description

This project focuses on developing tools to rapidly assess the air quality impacts of aviation emissions. Fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and ozone are harmful to human health, leading to a number of adverse health endpoints such as cardiopulmonary diseases and lung cancer. This project will help understand the aviation-attributable impacts of these pollutants and the tools under development in this project will enable the exploration and gauge the effectiveness of different policy scenarios aimed at mitigating the air quality impacts of aviation.

The tools are based on the adjoint approach applied to a global chemical transport model (GEOS-Chem) which models the emission, formation, transport, and deposition of chemicals including PM2.5 precursors, primary and secondary PM2.5, as well as ozone. The adjoint approach is used to efficiently compute sensitivities of certain model outcomes (e.g. adverse health impacts) to various model inputs (e.g. emissions by spatial location and chemical species), allowing identification of the best mitigation paths.

The long-term aim of this project is to allow quantification of both PM2.5 and ozone-related impacts from aviation emissions at different spatial scales, from the global scale to the continental scale, in different geographic regions.


  • Sensitivities of global and US surface-level PM5 concentrations to aviation emissions
  • Second-order sensitivities of PM5 concentrations in North America to aviation emissions. This quantifies the influence of changes in the background concentrations of different pollutants
  • Sensitivities of global surface-level ozone concentration to aviation emissions
  • Impact of uncertainty in ammonia (NH3) on surface-level PM5 concentrations due to aviation emissions
  • Tool based on sensitivity results available for use by the FAA to inform decision-making in ICAO CAEP. This tool was used to support the decision making for in the CAEP10 CO2 standard


  • Dedoussi, IC and Barrett, SRH (2015): US aviation air quality impacts and comparison with other sectors. 2015 Aircraft Noise and Emissions Reduction Symposium (ANERS), September 22-25, 2015, La Rochelle, France.

Program Managers

Last Updated: 07/06/2017