Feasibility of climate-optimized air traffic routing for trans-Atlantic flights

Current air traffic routing is motivated by minimizing economic costs, such as fuel use. In addition to the climate impact of CO2 emissions from this fuel use, aviation contributes to climate change through non-CO2 impacts, such as changes in atmospheric ozone and methane concentrations and formation of contrail-cirrus. These non-CO2 impacts depend significantly on where and when the aviation emissions occur. The climate impact of aviation could be reduced if flights were routed to avoid regions where emissions have the largest impact. Here, we present the first results where a climate-optimized routing strategy is simulated for all trans-Atlantic flights on 5 winter and 3 summer days, which are typical of representative winter and summer North Atlantic weather patterns.

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