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Heavy Air Traffic: Condensation Trails Over France

45.6N 0.1E

May 16th, 2009 Category: Climate Change

France - May 11th, 2009

France - May 11th, 2009

Condensation trails

Condensation trails

Condensation trails criss-cross the skies above western France, east of the sediment-laden Gironde Estuary, where the Garonne and Dordogne rivers converge.

The increase in the degree of ice cloud cover due to contrails has a potentially important effect on the climate.

Over central Europe and the transatlantic flight path an average coverage of about 0.5% has been measured, reports the Max-Planck Institute for Meteorology. This value should be compared with an average coverage of 20% for natural ice clouds.

Climate models predict that this increase in cloud coverage, currently tiny, leads to an equally small contribution to the greenhouse effect of 0.05ÂșC.

The same simulations suggest that a tenfold increase in this additional coverage would however result in a much larger contribution to climate change. With the rapid increase in flight traffic that has been predicted, this effect cannot be ruled out as being a future player in climate change.

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