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Annales Geophysicae An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 15, issue 11
Ann. Geophys., 15, 1457–1467, 1997
https://doi.org/10.1007/s00585-997-1457-4
© European Geosciences Union 1997
Ann. Geophys., 15, 1457–1467, 1997
https://doi.org/10.1007/s00585-997-1457-4
© European Geosciences Union 1997

  30 Nov 1997

30 Nov 1997

On the regional climatic impact of contrails: microphysical and radiative properties of contrails and natural cirrus clouds

B. Strauss1, R. Meerkoetter1, B. Wissinger1, P. Wendling1, and M. Hess2 B. Strauss et al.
  • 1Deutsche Forschungsanstalt fuer Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR), Institut fuer Physik der Atmosphaere, Oberpfaffenhofen, D-82234 Wessling, Germany
  • 2Meteorologisches Institut der Universitaet Muenchen, Muenchen, Germany

Abstract. The impact of contrail-induced cirrus clouds on regional climate is estimated for mean atmospheric conditions of southern Germany in the months of July and October. This is done by use of a regionalized one-dimensional radiative convective model (RCM). The influence of an increased ice cloud cover is studied by comparing RCM results representing climatological values with a modified case. In order to study the sensitivity of this effect on the radiative characteristics of the ice cloud, two types of additional ice clouds were modelled: cirrus and contrails, the latter cloud type containing a higher number of smaller and less of the larger cloud particles. Ice cloud parameters are calculated on the basis of a particle size distribution which covers the range from 2 to 2000 µm, taking into consideration recent measurements which show a remarkable amount of particles smaller than 20 µm. It turns out that a 10% increase in ice cloud cover leads to a surface temperature increase in the order of 1K, ranging from 1.1 to 1.2K in July and from 0.8 to 0.9K in October depending on the radiative characteristics of the air-traffic-induced ice clouds. Modelling the current contrail cloud cover which is near 0.5% over Europe yields a surface temperature increase in the order of 0.05K.

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