Near-field measurements on contrail properties from fuels with different sulfur content


  • A. Petzold,

  • R. Busen,

  • F. P. Schröder,

  • R. Baumann,

  • M. Kuhn,

  • J. Ström,

  • D. E. Hagen,

  • P. D. Whitefield,

  • D. Baumgardner,

  • F. Arnold,

  • S. Borrmann,

  • U. Schumann


Microphysical properties of jet exhaust aerosol and contrails were studied in the near field of the emitting aircraft for different fuel sulfur contents. Measurements were performed behind two different aircraft (ATTAS test aircraft of type VFW 614 and Airbus A310-300) using fuels with sulfur contents of 6 ppm and 2700 ppm, respectively. At closest approach (plume age < 1 s), the total number concentrations exceeded the measuring range of the condensation particle counter, i.e., N>105 cm−3. The concentration of the dry accumulation mode aerosol, i.e., predominantly soot particles, was not affected by the fuel sulfur content. At a plume age of 10 s, an increase in total number concentration (Dp>0.01 µm) by a factor of 3.5 in the high sulfur case compared to the low sulfur case was observed. The ultrafine condensation nuclei fraction (0.007 µm <Dp<0.018 µm) contributed at maximum 70% to the total aerosol in the plume while this fraction was much less outside the plume. The high fuel sulfur content also caused an increase in the typical number concentrations of contrail particles by about one third with respect to low sulfur fuel, while the effective diameter of the size distribution was lowered at a fuel sulfur independent ice water content. The major differences in accumulation mode aerosol and microphysical contrail properties between the used aircraft were an increased number concentration of both the accumulation mode aerosol and the contrail particles in the Airbus A310-300 plume relative to the ATTAS plume. Part of the difference in contrail particles may be caused by different ambient conditions, but the major differences are assumed to be caused by different engine and wake properties.