Contrails and Aviation-induced Cirrus Clouds
Relation with Temperature (01)
Air traffic and, therefore, contrails, are not evenly distributed around the globe. They are concentrated over parts of the United States and Europe, where local warming reaches up to 0.7 watts per square meter, or 35 times the global average. The ghostly white trails following airplanes and rockets through the sky, called contrails, are probably adding to global warming, according to scientists at NASAís Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va. The contrails often turn into cirrus clouds, a thin, wispy type of cloud made of ice crystals. The most common form of high-level clouds are thin and often wispy cirrus clouds. Typically found at heights greater than 20,000 feet (6,000 meters), cirrus clouds are composed of ice crystals that originate from the freezing of super cooled water droplets. Cirrus generally occur in fair weather and point in the direction of air movement at their elevation. While some clouds tend to help cool the globe and negate the affects of global warming, thin cirrus clouds are heat trappers, holding in more heat than they reflect back into space.