The effects of transport on air quality, weather patterns and the climate

The effects of transport on air quality, weather patterns and the climate
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Transport – a cause of global warming and environmental harm

Transport is responsible for around 20% of greenhouse gas emissions in Europe and impairs air quality. It also blows greenhouse gases, air pollution and fine particles in the atmosphere, which impacts weather patterns and the climate and health. The VEU project examines the complex interrelationships between transport and its environmental effects.

In focus: aerosol particles

Alongside climate-damaging CO2, transport also releases many other substances which impact on our weather and climate: soot and fine dust, for example, but also gases such as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen monoxide and hydrocarbons, which merge into particles in the atmosphere. These aerosol particles pose a health risk in themselves. But they have also been looked at more and more in recent climate research because they are presumed to influence global warming – directly, as they reflect and absorb sun rays, and indirectly, as they affect cloud formation. In doing so, they also affect weather patterns.

Further effects of transport

Transport has further effects on the climate, environment, and weather. Aircraft contrails, for example, directly influence clouds; transport emissions such as nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons lead to an increase in ozone gas, damaging health and climate, as well as a fall in the greenhouse gas methane.

Comprehensive modeling

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In the VEU project, passenger and freight transport emissions – embedded in the emissions from other European sources – are quantified. Their impact on air quality, climate and weather patterns are subsequently analyzed with the aid of simulations via numerical computer models, supplemented by atmospheric measurements made by planes, for example. The emissions’ effects are both analyzed for the actual current status and forecast for potential future developments. The particular question here is how future mobility systems would affect the environment.