Reducing Effect of Aircraft Induced Clouds on DoD Contribution to Global Warming

L. Sherry
George Mason University, United States

Keywords: Aircraft Induced Clouds, Contrails, Radiative Forcing, Global Warming, Climate Change Sustainability

There is increasing pressure on the DoD to address climate sustainability, not only for the welfare of the planet, but also for preserving their ability to perform and their cost of operations. Contrary to popular belief, the most significant contributor to anthropogenic (i.e. human made) global warming by military (transport) aviation is Aircraft Induced Clouds (AIC), not CO2. AIC create a green-house effect by absorbing or directing back to Earth approximately 33% of the Earth’s emitted outgoing long-wave radiation that impacts the cloud. Although AIC from aviation is estimated to contribute less than 2% of the Earth’s total anthropogenic Radiative Forcing (RF), the effect on global warming is immediate (unlike CO2 emissions which have a two-decade delay in affecting global warming). By reducing AIC now, the DoD aviation community can cut its contribution to global warming in half. Further, since the effect is immediate, the industry can buy-time for longer term CO2 initiatives in other industries to take effect. This paper describes a Flight Planning tool to minimize AIC and CO2 emissions for mission planning. The tool uses real-time weather forecasts and aircraft performance data to adjust flight plans to minimize RF impact.