Mid-season climate diagnostics of jet contrail 'outbreaks' and implications for eastern US sky-cover trends

Andrew M. Carleton, Armand D. Silva, Matthew S. Aghazarian, Jase Bernhardt, David J. Travis, Jason Allard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The cirrus-level 'condensation trails' (contrails) produced by jet aircraft often occur as sub-regional-scale 'outbreaks' of multiple contrails, suggested as contributing to post ~1965 climate trends in parts of the US and Europe. Several previously-developed, satellite-image based contrail spatial inventories for the conterminous US (CONUS) revealed regional-scale differences in frequency. However, the use of such geographically-fixed regions was not ideal for climate studies. As a first step towards determining the potential climate impacts of contrail outbreaks for the CONUS, we develop maps of overlapping (in time, space) outbreak occurrences-'overlaps'- by applying GIS to a recent period (2000-2002) satellite-image derived inventory for mid-season months. The higher-frequency outbreak overlap regions undergo substantial between-season variations in magnitude and extent that reflect an association with upper-tropospheric temperature gradients and winds. Overlap maps generated for additional mid-season months in 2008-2009 indicate the inter-annual variability of the outbreak regionalization. To clarify the role of uppertroposphere synoptic meteorological conditions in contrail outbreak occurrence, we form compo - sites-multi-case averages-for the sub-region of maximum overlap frequency in each midseason month. Regional and seasonal variations in the relative roles of 'thermo-dynamic' (here, temperature, humidity) and 'dynamic' (vertical motion of air, horizontal wind) controls in outbreaks are identified. Last, we demonstrate potential utility of the spatial overlap method by deriving fallseason surface station trends (1951-1993) of sky cover variables for contrasting high versus low contrail and overlap frequency grid cells in the eastern CONUS. These suggest a contrail contribution to recent high-cloud increases, notably for the Midwest.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)209-230
Number of pages22
JournalClimate Research
Volume56
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - May 29 2013

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condensation
Condensation
climate
Satellites
Jet aircraft
climate effect
cirrus
regionalization
trend
Thermal gradients
temperature gradient
Geographic information systems
Atmospheric humidity
humidity
aircraft
seasonal variation
GIS
Association reactions
air
Air

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Atmospheric Science

Cite this

Carleton, Andrew M. ; Silva, Armand D. ; Aghazarian, Matthew S. ; Bernhardt, Jase ; Travis, David J. ; Allard, Jason. / Mid-season climate diagnostics of jet contrail 'outbreaks' and implications for eastern US sky-cover trends. In: Climate Research. 2013 ; Vol. 56, No. 3. pp. 209-230.
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abstract = "The cirrus-level 'condensation trails' (contrails) produced by jet aircraft often occur as sub-regional-scale 'outbreaks' of multiple contrails, suggested as contributing to post ~1965 climate trends in parts of the US and Europe. Several previously-developed, satellite-image based contrail spatial inventories for the conterminous US (CONUS) revealed regional-scale differences in frequency. However, the use of such geographically-fixed regions was not ideal for climate studies. As a first step towards determining the potential climate impacts of contrail outbreaks for the CONUS, we develop maps of overlapping (in time, space) outbreak occurrences-'overlaps'- by applying GIS to a recent period (2000-2002) satellite-image derived inventory for mid-season months. The higher-frequency outbreak overlap regions undergo substantial between-season variations in magnitude and extent that reflect an association with upper-tropospheric temperature gradients and winds. Overlap maps generated for additional mid-season months in 2008-2009 indicate the inter-annual variability of the outbreak regionalization. To clarify the role of uppertroposphere synoptic meteorological conditions in contrail outbreak occurrence, we form compo - sites-multi-case averages-for the sub-region of maximum overlap frequency in each midseason month. Regional and seasonal variations in the relative roles of 'thermo-dynamic' (here, temperature, humidity) and 'dynamic' (vertical motion of air, horizontal wind) controls in outbreaks are identified. Last, we demonstrate potential utility of the spatial overlap method by deriving fallseason surface station trends (1951-1993) of sky cover variables for contrasting high versus low contrail and overlap frequency grid cells in the eastern CONUS. These suggest a contrail contribution to recent high-cloud increases, notably for the Midwest.",
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Mid-season climate diagnostics of jet contrail 'outbreaks' and implications for eastern US sky-cover trends. / Carleton, Andrew M.; Silva, Armand D.; Aghazarian, Matthew S.; Bernhardt, Jase; Travis, David J.; Allard, Jason.

In: Climate Research, Vol. 56, No. 3, 29.05.2013, p. 209-230.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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