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Contrails, Natural Clouds, and Diurnal Temperature Range

Dietmüller, Simone and Ponater, Michael and Sausen, Robert and Hoinka, Klaus-Peter and Pechtl, Susanne (2008) Contrails, Natural Clouds, and Diurnal Temperature Range. Journal of Climate, 21, pp. 5061-5075. American Meteorological Society. doi: 10.1175/2008JCLI2255.1.


Official URL: http://ams.allenpress.com/archive/1520-0442/21/19/pdf/i1520-0442-21-19-5061.pdf


The direct impact of aircraft condensation trails (contrails) on surface temperature in regions of high aircraft density has been a matter of recent debate in climate research. Based on data analysis for the 3-day aviation grounding period over the USA, following the terrorists' attack of 11 September 2001, a strong effect of contrails reducing the surface diurnal temperature range (DTR) has been suggested. Simulations with the global climate model ECHAM4 (including a contrail parameterization) and long term time series of observation based data are used for an independent cross check with longer data records, which allow statistically more reliable conclusions. The climate model underestimates the overall magnitude of the DTR compared to 40-yr ECMWF Re-Analysis (ERA-40) data and station data, but it captures most features of the DTR global distribution and the correlation between DTR and either cloud amount or cloud forcing. The diurnal cycle of contrail radiative impact is also qualitatively consistent with expectations, both at the surface and at the top of the atmosphere. Nevertheless, there is no DTR response to contrails in a simulation that inhibits a global radiative forcing considerably exceeding the upper limit of contrail radiative impact according to current assessments. Long term trends of DTR, the level of natural DTR variability, and the specific effect of high clouds on DTR are also analyzed. In both ECHAM4 and ERA-40 data, the correlation of cloud coverage or cloud radiative forcing with the DTR is mainly apparent for low clouds. None of the results herein indicates a significant impact of contrails on reducing the DTR. Hence, it is concluded that the respective hypothesis as derived from the 3-day aviation-free period over the United States lacks the required statistical backing.

Item URL in elib:https://elib.dlr.de/55464/
Document Type:Article
Title:Contrails, Natural Clouds, and Diurnal Temperature Range
AuthorsInstitution or Email of AuthorsAuthor's ORCID iDORCID Put Code
Pechtl, SusanneUniv. Heidelberg, HeidelbergUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Date:1 October 2008
Journal or Publication Title:Journal of Climate
Refereed publication:Yes
Open Access:Yes
Gold Open Access:No
In ISI Web of Science:Yes
Page Range:pp. 5061-5075
Publisher:American Meteorological Society
Keywords:diurnal temperature range, aviation, contrails, cirrus clouds
HGF - Research field:Aeronautics, Space and Transport
HGF - Program:Aeronautics
HGF - Program Themes:L VU - Air Traffic and Environment (old)
DLR - Research area:Aeronautics
DLR - Program:L VU - Air Traffic and Environment
DLR - Research theme (Project):L - Low-Emission Air Traffic (old)
Location: Oberpfaffenhofen
Institutes and Institutions:Institute of Atmospheric Physics > Cloud Physics and Traffic Meteorology
Institute of Atmospheric Physics > Atmospheric Dynamics
Deposited By: Ponater, Dr.rer.nat. Michael
Deposited On:13 Oct 2008
Last Modified:31 Jul 2019 19:22

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