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Transport impacts on atmosphere and climate: metrics

Fuglestvedt, J. S., Shine, K. P., Berntsen, T., Cook, J., Lee, D. S., Stenke, A., Skeie, R. B., Velders, G. J. M. and Waitz, I. A. (2010) Transport impacts on atmosphere and climate: metrics. Atmospheric Environment, 44 (37). pp. 4648-4677. ISSN 1352-2310

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To link to this article DOI: 10.1016/j.atmosenv.2009.04.044

Abstract/Summary

The transport sector emits a wide variety of gases and aerosols, with distinctly different characteristics which influence climate directly and indirectly via chemical and physical processes. Tools that allow these emissions to be placed on some kind of common scale in terms of their impact on climate have a number of possible uses such as: in agreements and emission trading schemes; when considering potential trade-offs between changes in emissions resulting from technological or operational developments; and/or for comparing the impact of different environmental impacts of transport activities. Many of the non-CO2 emissions from the transport sector are short-lived substances, not currently covered by the Kyoto Protocol. There are formidable difficulties in developing metrics and these are particularly acute for such short-lived species. One difficulty concerns the choice of an appropriate structure for the metric (which may depend on, for example, the design of any climate policy it is intended to serve) and the associated value judgements on the appropriate time periods to consider; these choices affect the perception of the relative importance of short- and long-lived species. A second difficulty is the quantification of input parameters (due to underlying uncertainty in atmospheric processes). In addition, for some transport-related emissions, the values of metrics (unlike the gases included in the Kyoto Protocol) depend on where and when the emissions are introduced into the atmosphere – both the regional distribution and, for aircraft, the distribution as a function of altitude, are important. In this assessment of such metrics, we present Global Warming Potentials (GWPs) as these have traditionally been used in the implementation of climate policy. We also present Global Temperature Change Potentials (GTPs) as an alternative metric, as this, or a similar metric may be more appropriate for use in some circumstances. We use radiative forcings and lifetimes from the literature to derive GWPs and GTPs for the main transport-related emissions, and discuss the uncertainties in these estimates. We find large variations in metric (GWP and GTP) values for NOx, mainly due to the dependence on location of emissions but also because of inter-model differences and differences in experimental design. For aerosols we give only global-mean values due to an inconsistent picture amongst available studies regarding regional dependence. The uncertainty in the presented metric values reflects the current state of understanding; the ranking of the various components with respect to our confidence in the given metric values is also given. While the focus is mostly on metrics for comparing the climate impact of emissions, many of the issues are equally relevant for stratospheric ozone depletion metrics, which are also discussed.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Science > School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:17099
Publisher:Elsevier

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