Did you ever wonder about all those clouds up there? As kids we used to look at the puffy white clouds and figure out what they looked like... perhaps an elephant, or a giraffe, or some other animal or object. You remember that game, don't you? And, as aviators, we all know that clouds are created from moisture in the atmosphere attaching to tiny particles of dust giving the cloud form and shape. Another way to look at it is that as water evaporates from the earth's surface it rises in the atmosphere until it attaches to dust particles or ice crystals, thus forming clouds.
Aha, but wait a minute... wait one doggone minute! It seems the blokes in the United Kingdom have concluded that contrails laid down by aircraft along high traffic areas can have a similar effect as clouds do in reflecting sunshine back towards the sun. In other words, a large concentration of contrails can create a cloud-like cover of the sky. According to the research conducted by these fellas one contrail they studied turned into a high level cirrus cloud that covered more than 20,000 square miles! Usually contrails dissipate quickly, but some can last much longer and stimulate the stratosphere where the extra ice caused by the contrails provides nuclei around which water vapor can condense, creating ... you got it ... clouds! But wait, it gets even better! These researchers believe that high level cloud cover caused by contrails traps more heat than it reflects outward from earth with the over all effect that it warms the earth! The conclusion? These contrail clouds add to the 3% of greenhouse gas emissions that aviation contributes to global warming! Ah, Al Gore, fire up that G-II and create some more clouds, eh? I guess everything man does causes the earth to warm, and we are all doomed! What do you think? Send me some comments and let me know what you think about this problem. Until next time keep your wings straight and level Hersch! JetAviator7