13th Conference on Applied Climatology and the 10th Conference on Aviation, Range, and Aerospace Meteorology

Tuesday, 14 May 2002: 2:15 PM
A study of contrail spreading over the Great Lakes
David P. Duda, Hampton University, Hampton, VA; and P. Minnis and R. Palikonda
Poster PDF (593.3 kB)
Contrails are a source of anthropogenic cloudiness similar in physical properties to natural cirrus. They affect the atmospheric radiation budget and may influence climate. Because air traffic is expected to grow by 2 to 5% annually for the next 50 years, contrail coverage will also increase and may produce a significant amount of radiative forcing by 2050. To understand and more accurately predict contrail climatic effects, better estimates and predictions of contrail coverage, optical properties and radiative forcing are needed.

This study addresses the current uncertainties in contrail coverage estimation, a key component in the determination of contrail climate effects. We track contrails from 9 October 2000 over the Great Lakes region using multi-spectral images from the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES), the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MODIS) onboard the Terra (EOS-AM-1) satellite, and the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) onboard the NOAA polar orbiting satellites. Using commercial air traffic data from Flight Explorer and the hourly analyses of height, temperature, relative humidity and horizontal and vertical wind speeds from the Rapid Update Cycle-2 (RUC-2) numerical prediction model, we advect and match the flight tracks with contrails detected from satellite imagery. The combination of datasets will be used to test various temperature and humidity thresholds required for contrail formation and persistence, as well as relate the rate of contrail spreading and growth to the environmental conditions and air traffic density.

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