Air traffic management (ATM) deals with disruptive weather on a regular basis, but such events are likely to become more frequent and extreme as the climate changes. In turn, unpredictable weather patterns are exacerbating further the situation as aircraft are unable to fly their most environmentally optimal trajectory. In this article, Angelo Riccio, University of Naples Parthenope, and Raffaella Russo ISSNOVA Institute for Sustainable Society and Innovation explains what the researchers in the SESAR 3 JU CREATE project are doing to assess the impact of ATM operations on the climate, while also improving resilience to weather phenomena in a changing climate.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) limiting the global warming 2 °C below pre-industrial temperatures considerably reduces the risk of triggering accelerated or irreversible changes in the climate system, as well as large-scale adverse impacts. Weather phenomena are one of the biggest causes for significant delays and unpredictable disruptions within air traffic management (ATM) network operations. The changing global climate increases the future severity and frequency of these air traffic disturbing weather phenomena. This deteriorates the reliability of ATM network planning and increases potentially the delays within air traffic operations. Furthermore, aviation itself has a responsibility to mitigate its climate impact, improve the long-term sustainability of ATM operations and contribute to the global effort towards the reduction of anthropogenic climate change.

Launched in June 2020, CREATE (innovative operations and Climate and weatheR modEls to improve Atm resiliencE and reduce impacts) is developing and testing new methodologies for the optimisation of aircraft trajectories, profiting from advanced weather forecasting models. At the same time, high-resolution air quality models make it possible to track the evolution of the atmospheric composition and the interaction with background pollution levels, taking into account the impact on air quality and on climatic determinants.

The project is testing tools in traffic in the en-route and approach phase of flight, and hopefully they will be effective in both scenarios. Using advanced computational platforms, and the application of high-resolution and short-range weather/air quality forecast models, like those under development, ATM stakeholder will be able to plan/adapt in real-time aircraft trajectories, helping to increase the resilience to adverse weather phenomena and the environmental impact of such trajectories. In the following months, CREATE will invite key industrial stakeholders in a workshop to promote its achievements.


This project has received funding from the SESAR Joint Undertaking under the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 890898