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Contrails Over Jutland Peninsula, Denmark and Germany

57.0N 8.8E

June 5th, 2013 Category: Climate Change, Clouds MODISTerra

Denmark – June 4th, 2013

Condensation trails create criss-crossed lines over the Jutland Peninsula (center), the northern part of which belongs to Denmark and the southern part of which belongs to Germany. Depending on the temperature and humidity at the altitude the contrail forms, they may be visible for only a few seconds or minutes, or may persist for hours and spread to be several miles wide. Persistent spreading contrails are thought to have a significant effect on global climate.

Contrails, by affecting the Earth’s radiation balance, act as a radiative forcing. Studies have found that contrails trap outgoing longwave radiation emitted by the Earth and atmosphere (positive radiative forcing) at a greater rate than they reflect incoming solar radiation (negative radiative forcing).

Global radiative forcing has been calculated from the reanalysis data, climatological models and radiative transfer codes. It is estimated to amount to 0.012 W/m2 for 2005, with an uncertainty range of 0.005 to 0.0026 W/m2, and with a low level of scientific understanding. Therefore, the overall net effect of contrails is positive, i.e. a warming effect.

However, the effect varies daily and annually, and overall the magnitude of the forcing is not well known: globally (for 1992 air traffic conditions), values range from 3.5 mW/m2 to 17 mW/m2. Other studies have determined that night flights are mostly responsible for the warming effect: while accounting for only 25% of daily air traffic, they contribute 60 to 80% of contrail radiative forcing. Similarly, winter flights account for only 22% of annual air traffic, but contribute half of the annual mean radiative forcing.

Snowfall Over the Alps and Fog Across Northern Italy

45.4N 9.1E

February 17th, 2013 Category: Mountains

Italy – January 26th, 2013

The Alps, one of the great mountain range systems of Europe, are covered in snow in this winter image. The mountains stretch approximately 1,200 kilometres (750 mi) across eight countries from Austria and Slovenia in the east, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Germany, France to the west and Italy and Monaco to the south. Here, a fog can be seen extending over northern Italy, from the Alps, across the valley of the River Po, to the northern slopes of the Apennines.

Snow Highlighting Chain of Frisian Islands, Netherlands and Germany – February 12th, 2013

53.3N 5.3E

February 12th, 2013 Category: Image of the day

Holland- January 25th, 2013

Snow covers Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany in this winter image of Europe. It also highlights part of the chain of Frisian Islands, also known as the Wadden Islands or Wadden Sea Islands. The islands form an archipelago at the eastern edge of the North Sea in northwestern Europe, stretching from the north-west of the Netherlands through Germany to the west of Denmark. The islands shield the mudflat region of the Wadden Sea (large parts of which fall dry during low tide) from the North Sea.

Italy, from the Alps to Mount Etna – March 30th, 2012

42.7N 12.5E

March 30th, 2012 Category: Lakes, Mountains, Volcanoes

Italy - March 29th, 2012

Snow rests atop the peaks of the Alps, arching across northern Italy and its border with Switzerland, Germany and Austria. South of the mountains lies the valley of the River Po, home to important cities such as Milan (visible as a grey area in the full image), west of Lake Garda. Although the Apennines, the mountain chain that forms the backbone of the peninsula, are snow-free, some snow can be seen at the summit of Mount Etna, in Sicily.

Lakes Garda and Constance Near the Alps

45.4N 9.1E

March 26th, 2012 Category: Lakes, Mountains

Italy - December 26th, 2011

This wide-swath ASAR image shows the contours of the Alps, in northern Italy, as well as parts of Switzerland and Austria. Visible in the Po Valley south of the mountains is the city of Milan, appearing as a large, circular, white area.

Also visible near the foot of the mountains are several lakes: Lake Garda, in Italy, near the center of the image, and Lake Constance, shared by Germany, Switzerland and Austria, in the upper left corner. The Rhine River flows into Lake Constance from the south following the Austro-Swiss border.

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