You may remember I’ve been enjoying sunrises lately. Much of this week I’ve been greeted by dense fog, but today dawned nice and sunny. However, the pretty pattern weren’t made by clouds; they were made by three jet contrails (condensation trails) fanning out above Mabry’s Ridge.
There’s no denying that the stripes, which are made by water particles affected by jet exhaust or their wings under certain circumstances, are pretty (they make nice sunsets, too), but I recalled that some people I’ve talked to have said they are contributing to climate change, or worse.
The idea is, I guess, that there are so many airplanes flying around our larger cities that they are increasing the cloud cover, with measurable consequences. I found a reasonable-sounding article that summed it up:
While contrails are thought to only have a minor impact on climate, their influence on daily temperature patterns is much more significant. As contrails spread and thin out to form contrail cirrus, they promote daytime cooling (their high albedo reflects incoming solar radiation back out into space) and warming at night (high, thin clouds absorb the Earth’s outgoing longwave radiation). The magnitude of this warming is thought to outweigh the effects of cooling.Means, Tiffany. “Contrails: The Controversial Cloud.” ThoughtCo, Dec. 5, 2018, thoughtco.com/contrails-3443730.
Argh, these pretty clouds are at least contributing a little bit to global warming, if you believe in that.
On the other hand, there are people who believe the contrails are spreading chemicals on us, or some such nefarious acts. I couldn’t find much to back that up, though. Feel free to check out this Wikipedia article on the consipiracy, though. I think I’ll constrain my worries to the increased cloud cover and allow myself to enjoy the articifially enhanced skies.