Printer Friendly

Jet contrails have surprising effect on the atmosphere.

The climate impact of flying isn't just about carbon emissions. The contrails that airplanes create also influence the temperature of our atmosphere-and a new study finds that impact is set to grow in a big way.

As planes cruise through the upper reaches of the troposphere. spewing exhaust, they also leave behind trails of water vapor that can form streaky cirrus clouds. Most of these contrail cirrus clouds dissipate quickly, but under the right conditions they can linger for hours, and when that happens they warm the atmosphere by absorbing thermal radiation emitted by the Earth.

Scientists have known about the greenhouse effect of contrail cirrus for years-in fact, there's an entire niche field of research devoted to it. And it's important: Globally, the atmospheric warming associated with these clouds is estimated to be larger than that caused by aviation's carbon emissions. That surprising fact has some scientists curious about whether the effect will grow as the skies continue to get more trafficked into the future.

Now, a pair of researchers from the German Aerospace Center (DLR) has attempted to answer that question. Using a previously developed climate model that includes contrail cirrus clouds and an aviation emissions database developed by the U.S. Department of Transportation (which projects future air traffic out to mid-century), the authors looked at how the atmospheric warming effect of contrails will change. Their findings, published today in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, show that by 2050, contrail-induced warming could be three times higher than it was in 2006. In fact, this type of warming will likely outpace warming from rising carbon dioxide emissions, thanks to concurrent improvements in fuel efficiency.

AirGuide Travel Media & Technology connects you to an affluent, influential group of business and leisure travelers from across the globe with Frequent Flyer Destinations Magazine (, AirGuideOnline (, AirGuide Destination Travel Guides (, AirGuideBusiness (, offering content solutions & technology + business intelligence software for the global travel and business markets.

Editorial eMail:

For Advertising ( and Marketing Contacts (

For Custom Content and Content Solutions:

Air & Travel Business Analysis:

Copyright (C) 2017 AirGuide / Pyramid Media Group. All rights reserved.

COPYRIGHT 2019 Pyramid Media Group, Inc
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2019 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Publication:AirGuide Business
Date:Jun 30, 2019
Previous Article:Tesla is no longer the only game in town with Audi, Jaguar and Porsche arriving.
Next Article:Airbus is pushing ahead in tech as it aims for single-pilot planes.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2020 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters