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Statistical analysis of contrail lifetimes from a satellite perspective

Gierens, Klaus Martin and Vazquez-Navarro, Margarita (2018) Statistical analysis of contrail lifetimes from a satellite perspective. Meteorologische Zeitschrift, 27 (3), pp. 183-193. Borntraeger Science Publishers. DOI: 10.1127/metz/2018/0888 ISSN 0941-2948

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Official URL: https://www.schweizerbart.de/papers/metz/detail/27/88472/Statistical_analysis_of_contrail_lifetimes_from_a_satellite_perspective

Abstract

The study of the lifetimes of contrails from a satellite perspective benefits from the extended coverage and close temporal monitoring. However, the initial stages of the contrail development are not observed from a satellite platform due to the sub-pixel size of the forming cloud. The final stages may be unobserved as well when the contrails get spatially diluted and when they lose contrast with their background. In this paper we apply a Weibull distribution model to describe the survival rate of contrails during their observed life-span and adjust its two defining parameters (lambda and k) to fit a dataset of over 2300 contrails. Using the Weibull distribution, it is possible to estimate the expected further lifetime of the contrails after satellite observation ceased. Depending on the actually observed lifetime, the expected extension can range from about 1 to 4h, but the overall mean of this duration is about 1.3h. The time elapsed between contrail formation and first satellite observation is estimated from the initial width distribution of the contrails. Under the assumption of a 5km/h spreading rate, the average age of contrails at the time of their first satellite detection is 1.5+-0.4h. Using a Monte Carlo simulation, we are able to compute the cumulative distribution of the complete (i.e. initial spreading, tracking, and after-tracking periods) lifetime of persistent contrails. This complete lifetime has a mean value of 3.7+-2.8h. The Weibull distribution (k<1) shows that the probability to survive increases with contrail age, which corresponds to the actual decay rate of contrails in nature. Additionally, we analyse lifetime differences between daytime and nighttime contrails. We find that nighttime contrails have slightly shorter lifetimes than daytime contrails. Although this difference is statistically significant, it remains to be shown whether this has important physical consequences.

Item URL in elib:https://elib.dlr.de/121762/
Document Type:Article
Title:Statistical analysis of contrail lifetimes from a satellite perspective
Authors:
AuthorsInstitution or Email of AuthorsAuthors ORCID iD
Gierens, Klaus MartinDLR, IPAhttps://orcid.org/0000-0001-6983-5370
Vazquez-Navarro, MargaritaDLR, IPAUNSPECIFIED
Date:2018
Journal or Publication Title:Meteorologische Zeitschrift
Refereed publication:Yes
Open Access:Yes
Gold Open Access:Yes
In SCOPUS:Yes
In ISI Web of Science:Yes
Volume:27
DOI :10.1127/metz/2018/0888
Page Range:pp. 183-193
Publisher:Borntraeger Science Publishers
ISSN:0941-2948
Status:Published
Keywords:Statistische Methoden, Kondensstreifen, Satellitendaten
HGF - Research field:Aeronautics, Space and Transport
HGF - Program:Transport
HGF - Program Themes:Transport System
DLR - Research area:Transport
DLR - Program:V VS - Verkehrssystem
DLR - Research theme (Project):V - Transport und Klima
Location: Oberpfaffenhofen
Institutes and Institutions:Institute of Atmospheric Physics
Deposited By: Gierens, Dr.rer.nat. Klaus Martin
Deposited On:19 Sep 2018 15:39
Last Modified:10 Feb 2019 15:50

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