Estimates of UK CO2 emissions from aviation using air traffic data

Tamara Pejovic, Robert B. Noland, Victoria Williams, Ralf Toumi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


The allocation of CO2 emissions to specific sources is a major policy issue for international aviation, especially for determining allocations for emissions trading schemes. This paper addresses the problem by recommending a possible methodology to allocate emissions to specific sources using detailed air traffic data. The basis for the calculations is an air traffic sample for one full-day of traffic from the UK. In order to analyse aircraft fuel burn use and hence CO2 emissions, the Reorganized Air Traffic Control Mathematical Simulator (RAMS Plus) and the Advanced Emission Model (AEM III) are used. The results from these detailed simulations are compared with two of the most widely-used aviation CO2 emission estimates to have been made for the UK: the SERAS study and NETCEN estimate. Their estimates for the year 2000 are 26.1 and 31.4 Mt, respectively. In addition, the most recent NETCEN estimate for the year 2003 is 34.1 Mt of CO2. Our estimate of total aviation CO2 emissions, using detailed simulations and real air traffic data, is 34.7 Mt for the year 2004. In addition, emission estimates are compared with two global aviation emission inventories: AERO2K and SAGE. Contributions of the highest-emitting flights and aircraft types are identified. International departures dominate; 6% of flights account for 50% of total emissions. The largest aircraft emit the most per flight-km, although not per passenger-km. Different methodologies and their implications are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)367-384
Number of pages18
JournalClimatic Change
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Jun 2008
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Atmospheric Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Estimates of UK CO2 emissions from aviation using air traffic data'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this