We employ a trajectory model to assess the impact on the stratosphere of water vapor present in the exhaust of subsonic and a proposed fleet of supersonic aircraft. Air parcels into which water vapor from aircraft exhaust has been injected are run through a 6-year simulation in the trajectory model using meteorological data from the UKMO analyses with emissions dictated by the standard 2015 emissions scenario. For the subsonic aircraft, our results suggest maximum enhancements of ~150 ppbv just above the Northern Hemisphere tropopause and of much less than 50 ppbv in most other regions. Inserting the perturbed water vapor profiles into a radiative transfer model, but not considering the impact of additional cirrus formation resulting from emissions by subsonic aircraft, we find that the impact of subsonic water vapor emissions on the radiative balance is negligible. For the supersonic case, our results show maximum enhancements of ~1.5 ppmv in the tropical stratosphere near 20 km. Much of the remaining stratosphere between 12 and 25 km sees enhancements of greater than 0.1 ppmv, although enhancements above 35 km are generally less than 50 ppbv, in contrast to previous 2-D and 3-D model studies. Radiative calculations based upon these projected water vapor perturbations indicate they may cause a nonnegligible impact on tropical temperature profiles. Since our trajectory model includes no chemistry and our radiative calculations use the most extreme water vapor perturbations, our results should be viewed as upper limits on the potential impacts.
Morris, G. A., J. E. Rosenfield, M. R. Schoeberl, and C. H. Jackman (2003), Potential impact of subsonic and supersonic aircraft exhaust on water vapor in the lower stratosphere assessed via a trajectory model, J. Geophys. Res., 108, 4103, doi:10.1029/2002JD002614.