Carla is a PhD candidate at the Laboratory for Aviation and the Environment in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, under the supervision of Prof. Steven Barrett. Her research focuses on quantifying the climate impacts of aviation in a policy relevant manner. Aviation is rapidly growing, and is already estimated to account for 5% of global anthropogenic radiative forcing. More than half of this climate impact is due to high altitude non-CO2 emissions, such as soot, sulfates, oxides of nitrogen, water vapor, and notably, contrails, which are artificial clouds that transiently form in the wake of the aircraft. These factors remain highly uncertain.
As part of her work at MIT, Carla has co-developed a climate policy analysis tool for aviation emissions interventions, while capturing this uncertainty. Subsequently, she applied this tool to derive and publish metrics for rapid assessment of the climate and air quality trade-offs of aviation emissions interventions. This work has already had the opportunity to inform policy. The most recent version of the climate tool has been applied by the Federal Aviation Administration to analyze the climate costs or benefits of a global emissions standard. The metrics have been presented at ICAO CEAP to inform the direction of future aviation emissions regulations.
Currently, Carla is working on a project that aims to provide the first bottom-up quantification of current-day climate impacts from all aviation emissions over the past 40 years. In addition to providing the first direct estimate of temperature change due to accumulated aviation emissions, this analysis will show how aviation’s climate impact has been affected by changes in the distribution and nature of the emissions.
Prior to starting her PhD research at MIT, Carla was a Masters student affiliated with the CSIR and the University of Pretoria, South Africa. She holds Mechanical Engineering degrees (B. Eng, B. Eng (Hons) and M. Eng) with distinction from the University of Pretoria. Outside of research, she is active in the Christian community on campus, and enjoys hiking and spending time in nature.