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Extinction and optical depth of contrails

Voigt, C. and Schumann, U. and Jessberger, P. and Jurkat, T. and Petzold, A. and Gayet, J.F. and Krämer, M. and Thornberry, T. and Fahey, D.W. (2011) Extinction and optical depth of contrails. Geophysical Research Letters, 38 (L11806), pp. 1-5. DOI: 10.1029/2011GL046884.

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Official URL: http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2011/2011GL047189.shtml


One factor limiting the understanding of the climate impact from contrails and aircraft induced cloud modifications is the accurate determination of their optical depth. To this end, 14 contrails were sampled for 2756 s with instruments onboard the research aircraft Falcon during the CONCERT (CONtrail and Cirrus ExpeRimenT) campaign in November 2008. The young (<10 min old) contrails were produced by 9 commercial aircraft with weights of 47 to 508 t, among them the largest operating passenger aircraft, the Airbus A380. The contrails were observed at temperatures between 214 and 224 K and altitudes between 8.8 and 11.1 km. The measured mean in-contrail relative humidity with respect to ice was 89 ± 12%. Six contrails were observed in cloud free air, the others were embedded in thin cirrus clouds. The observed contrails exhibited a mean ice water content of 2 mg m−3 and had a mean number concentration of 117 cm−3 and effective radius of 2.9 μm assuming asphericle particles with an aspect ratio of 0.5. Probability density functions of the extinction, with a mean (median) of 1.2 (0.7) km−1, and of the optical depth τ, with a mean (median) of 0.27 (0.13), are derived from the in situ measurements and are likely representative for young contrails from the present-day commercial aircraft fleet at observation conditions. Radiative transfer estimates using the in-situ measured contrail optical depth lead to a year-2005 estimate of line-shaped contrail radiative forcing of 15.9 mWm−2 with an uncertainty range of 11.1–47.7 mWm−2.

Document Type:Article
Title:Extinction and optical depth of contrails
AuthorsInstitution or Email of Authors
Voigt, C.DLR
Schumann, U.DLR
Jessberger, P.DLR
Jurkat, T.DLR
Petzold, A.DLR
Gayet, J.F.Univ. Blaise Pascal, Clermont‐Ferrand, F.
Krämer, M.FZ Jülich
Thornberry, T.NOAA, Boulder, CO, USA
Fahey, D.W.NOAA, Boulder, CO, USA
Journal or Publication Title:Geophysical Research Letters
Refereed publication:Yes
In Open Access:No
In ISI Web of Science:Yes
Page Range:pp. 1-5
Keywords:contrail properties, contrail optical depth, linear contrail radiative forcing
HGF - Research field:Aeronautics, Space and Transport, Aeronautics, Space and Transport
HGF - Program:Space, Aeronautics
HGF - Program Themes:Earth Observation, ATM and Operation
DLR - Research area:Raumfahrt, Aeronautics
DLR - Program:R EO - Erdbeobachtung, L AO - Air Traffic Management and Operation
DLR - Research theme (Project):R - Vorhaben Atmosphären- und Klimaforschung, L - Climate, Weather and Environment
Location: Oberpfaffenhofen
Institutes and Institutions:Institute of Atmospheric Physics > Atmospheric Trace Species
Deposited By: Jana Freund
Deposited On:17 Nov 2011 14:33
Last Modified:26 Mar 2013 13:33

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