Aerial top down view of an airplane flying over blue sea

Climate Change

Aviation expertise for a changing climate

The weather and associated variability is a result of the Earth’s dynamic climate system. The climate system is evolving beyond its natural variability as human activity has been altering the composition of the global atmosphere. These changes in the climate system will have impacts on global air transportation in a variety of ways, both through impacts on the infrastructure (e.g., sea level rise) and flight operations (changing storm patterns and intensity of associated hazards, increasing temperatures resulting in reduced takeoff lift, wild fires, and dust storms, changing jetstream and associated wind and turbulence hazards, etc.). Aviation is contributing to climate change through its emissions and contrail production.

Research and Development Areas

Climate Change Research

NCAR is one of the leading institutions in climate change research studying the complex processes of the Earth system and building climate models that allow understanding of both past and present climate as well as investigate how the climate is likely to change in the future. NCAR scientists are significantly contributing to the comprehensive climate change assessment reports produced by the Unite Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Climate Change Impacts

Using its vast experience and understanding of the Earth system, combined with high-resolution past, current and future climate datasets, NCAR scientists can assist the aviation industry with evaluating its specific vulnerabilities, climate change impacts, and developing mitigation strategies for strategic infrastructure and flight operation planning decisions. NCAR may also help with exploring options for reducing aviation emissions and contrail formation.


Matthias Steiner

Director, Aviation Applications Program


Roy Rasmussen

Director, Hydrometeorology Applications Program


Scott Swerdlin

Director, National Security Applications Program