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CONTRAILS

Aircraft Condensation Trails Monitoring

Development and demonstration of an EO-based service in support to the continuous assessment of the environmental effects of increasing volumes of air traffic, by monitoring the daily contrail and cirrus cloud coverage over Europe and the North Atlantic.

 

CONTRAILS
Aircraft Condensation Trails Monitoring
DUE (Data User Element)
Land
€500k
Service Demonstration
Completed
ENVISAT : AATSR
ERS-2 : ATSR-2
NOAA : AVHRR
ENVISAT : MERIS
EOS-Aqua : MODIS
MSG : SEVIRI

Exhaust emissions from jet aeroplanes contain large amounts of water vapour which, under certain atmospheric states, will condense to form elongated cloud-like condensation trails in the sky. These contrails can have an environmental impact by modifying the radiative balance of the Earth-atmosphere system. This perturbation is caused by radiative forcing due to the contrails themselves, and possibly also due to the formation of persistent cirrus clouds which might not otherwise have existed.

The focus of the Contrails project was to develop and demonstrate an EO-based service in support to the continuous assessment of the environmental effects of increasing volumes of air traffic, by monitoring the daily contrail and cirrus cloud coverage, for one year, over Europe and the North Atlantic.

Contrails were mapped intensively for one year (2004) using several satellite sensors in order to capture as best as possible the diurnal variation. Cirrus cloud coverage and properties were also mapped using satellite data. By comparing the cirrus cloud maps with air traffic density maps, the relationship between changes in cirrus and air traffic density were investigated. An assessment of the radiative forcing of both the contrails and the cirrus changes were made. Finally, an independent assessment of EUROCONTROL's contrail formation model was made by comparing model based contrail maps with the satellite derived contrail maps.

With the aim of providing historical context for the one year intensive study period, contrail maps for the years 1985, 1990, 1995, 2000 were also prepared.

Project Final Report
Validation Report (7Mb PDF)
German Aerospace Center - Institute of Atmospheric Physics
KNMI
SAT DUNDEE
EUROCONTROL
Hermann Mannstein
Institut fur Physik der Atmosphare
Deutches Zentrum fur Luft- und Raumfahrt e.V.
Oberpfaffenhofen, Postfach 1116, 82230 Weßling,
Germany.
Tel: +49-8153-28-2503
Fax: +49 8153 28 1271
Email: hermann.mannstein@dlr.de
Simon Pinnock
European Space Agency - ESRIN D/EOP-SEP
Via Galileo Galilei
I-00044 Frascati (RM)
ITALY
Tel: +39 06-941.80573
Fax: +39 06 941.80552
Email: simon.pinnock@esa.int