Properties of linear contrails in the Northern Hemisphere derived from 2006...

Bedka, S., P. Minnis, D. Duda, T. L. Chee, and R. Palikonda (2013), Properties of linear contrails in the Northern Hemisphere derived from 2006 Aqua MODIS observations, Geophys. Res. Lett., 40, 1-6, doi:10.1029/2012GL054363.

Understanding the role of contrails in the Earth’s radiation budget requires an accurate characterization of their macrophysical and microphysical properties, such as cloud top temperature, optical depth, and effective particle size. These properties are derived from 2006 MODerateresolution Imaging Spectroradiometer data over the Northern Hemisphere using a bi-spectral, infrared-only retrieval technique. Contrail temperature is estimated using a quadratic relationship of flight track pressure with latitude. The results reveal distinct seasonal trends in contrail microphysical properties, with slightly greater mean optical depths and slightly smaller particle sizes during summer. The average contrail optical depth and particle effective diameter are 0.216 and 35.7 mm, respectively. Although fewer contrails occurred at night, there are no appreciable diurnal differences in their retrieved properties. These results should help to fill the gap in our knowledge of contrail properties and will be valuable for model validation.

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Radiation Science Program (RSP)