Aircraft contrails reduce solar irradiance



A topic of considerable interest today is whether condensation trails generated by the growing number of passenger and other jet aircraft (Figure 1) alter Earth's radiation balance enough to influence regional weather and global climate [e.g., Rind et al. , 1996].

While any global influences of contrails have yet to be detected, a number of studies show possible regional effects. Changnon [1981], for example, suggested a possible link between contrails from jet aircraft and a reduction in the diurnal maximum and minimum temperature in the midwestern United States. Cirrus evolved from contrails has even been reported to reduce the warming of a solar-heated house [Robinson, 1996].