Transformation of contrails into cirrus during SUCCESS
Article first published online: 7 DEC 2012
Copyright 1998 by the American Geophysical Union.
Geophysical Research Letters
Volume 25, Issue 8, pages 1157–1160, 15 April 1998
How to Cite
- Issue published online: 7 DEC 2012
- Article first published online: 7 DEC 2012
- Manuscript Accepted: 31 OCT 1997
- Manuscript Received: 7 JUL 1997
Three contrail systems were analyzed with geostationary satellite data to document the conversion of the contrails to cirrus clouds. Two unique contrails, a pair of figure eights and a NASA DC-8 oval, were tracked for more than 7 hours. A cluster of contrails from commercial aircraft lasted over 17 hours. The figure eights produced a cirrus cloud having a maximum extent of 12,000 km²; the commercial cluster reached an area of ∼35,000 km². The contrail-cirrus were thin with optical depths between 0.2 and 0.5. In all cases, cloud particle size increased as the contrails developed into cirrus clouds. The climatic impact of contrails will be greater than would be estimated if only linear contrails, those typically observed in satellite imagery, are considered. Additional research is required to obtain reliable statistics on contrail growth and lifetime.