Project: Studentship: The Microphysics of Aviation Induced Cirrus Clouds

Reference: SRT16/5/2

Last update: 28/06/2007 15:21:39


The research's overall aim is to quantify the mechanisms of aviation induced cirrus cloud formation and, ultimately, the work will allow mapping of aviation-induced cirrus clouds. The research will ultimately inform the Department over the potential magnitude and importance of aviation-enhanced cirrus clouds, so that appropriate policy strategies can be developed
The specific objectives of the project are:
1. To develop a combined aerosol-ice particle microphysical model suitable for inclusion in a global chemical transport model e.g. TOMCAT or SLIMCAT
2. To investigate the sensitivity of cirrus cloud properties to the precursor atmospheric state (temperature, humidity, aerosol size distribution) and assumed sublimation rates and processes.
3. To produce global maps of aircraft induced cirrus.
4. To produce a DPhil thesis on The Microphysics of Aviation Induced Cirrus Clouds.


The research will addresses a key area of uncertainty that directly affects policy development to reduce aviation climate change impacts and complements and enhances existing research supported by Dft, e.g. TRADEOFF, Quantify, joint Manchester Metropolitan University - University of Reading contrail work. Within the European Commission Integrated Project 'Quantify' (quantifying the climate impacts of the transportation sector), in which the University of Oxford is a partner, some effort is being committed to furthering understanding of cirrus cloud enhancement. The project proposed here adds to the work of Quantify both enhancing it, and receiving benefit from this international project.
Other interested parties to the work would be DEFRA, DTi and the European Commission. The results of the research will be able to be applied by DEFRA in two ways: reducing the contrail/cirrus uncertainties (ascertaining whether a policy response is needed or not); and secondly, the ultimately predictive approach of the technique should an operational response be required to this environmental problem.


University of Oxford
Barnett House, 32 Wellington Square, Oxford, OX1 2ER

Contract details

Cost to the Department: £97,455.00

Actual start date: 09 February 2006

Actual completion date: 08 August 2009