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Thursday, May 9, 2013

"Contrail ice particles in aircraft wakes and their climatic importance," by Ulrich Schumann et al., GRL (2013); doi:10.1002/grl.50539

Geophysical Research Letters, in press; doi:10.1002/grl.50539

Contrail ice particles in aircraft wakes and their climatic importance

  1. Ulrich Schumann1,*
  2. Philipp Jeßberger1, and 
  3. Christiane Voigt1,2

Measurements of gaseous (NO, NOy, SO2, HONO) and ice particle concentrations in young contrails in primary and secondary wakes of aircraft of different sizes (B737, A319, A340, A380) are used to investigate ice particle formation behind aircraft. The gas concentrations are largest in the primary wake and decrease with increasing altitude in the secondary wake, as expected for passive trace gases and aircraft-dependent dilution. In contrast, the measured ice particle concentrations were found larger in the secondary wake than in the primary wake. The contrails contain more ice particles than expected for previous black carbon (soot) estimates. The ice concentrations may result from soot induced ice nucleation for a soot number emission index of 1015 kg-1. For a doubled ice particle concentration in young contrails, a contrail cirrus model computes about 60% increases of global radiative forcing by contrail cirrus because of simultaneous increases in optical depth, age and cover.

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