Radiative forcing and climate change
Shine, K. (2015) Radiative forcing and climate change. In: Blockley, R. and Shyy, W. (eds.) Encyclopedia of Aerospace Engineering. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., pp. 1-11. ISBN 9780470686652
To link to this article DOI: 10.1002/9780470686652.eae526.pub2
Aviation causes climate change as a result of its emissions of CO2, oxides of nitrogen, aerosols, and water vapor. One simple method of quantifying the climate impact of past emissions is radiative forcing. The radiative forcing due to changes in CO2 is best characterized, but there are formidable difficulties in estimating the non-CO2 forcings – this is particularly the case for possible aviation-induced changes in cloudiness (AIC). The most recent comprehensive assessment gave a best estimate of the 2005 total radiative forcing due to aviation of about 55–78 mW m−2 depending on whether AIC was included or not, with an uncertainty of at least a factor of 2. The aviation CO2 radiative forcing represents about 1.6% of the total CO2 forcing from all human activities. It is estimated that, including the non-CO2 effects, aviation contributes between 1.3 and 14% of the total radiative forcing due to all human activities. Alternative methods for comparing the future impact of present-day aviation emissions are presented – the perception of the relative importance of the non-CO2 emissions, relative to CO2, depends considerably on the chosen method and the parameters chosen within those methods.