Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Atmospheric science

Seeing through contrails

Contrails formed by aircraft can evolve into cirrus clouds indistinguishable from those formed naturally. These 'spreading contrails' may be causing more climate warming today than all the carbon dioxide emitted by aircraft since the start of aviation.

Your institute does not have access to this article

Access options

Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

$32.00

All prices are NET prices.

Figure 1: Satellite infrared images of contrails spreading into cirrus clouds over the UK.

References

  1. Lee, D. S. et al. Atmos. Environ. 43, 3520–3537 (2009).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Haywood, J. M. et al. J. Geophys. Res. 114, D24201 (2009).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Burkhardt, U. & Kärcher, B. Nature Clim. Change 1, 54–58 10.1038/nclimate1068(2011).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Boucher, O. Nature 397, 30–31 (1999).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Zerefos, C. S. et al. Atmos. Chem. Phys. 3, 1633–1644 (2003).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Stubenrauch, C. J. & Schumann, U. Geophys. Res. Lett. 32, L14813 (2005).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Hendricks, J. et al. Geophys. Res. Lett. 32, L12814 (2005).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Mannstein, H. et al. Transport. Res. D 10, 421–426 (2005).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Williams, V. et al. Clim. Policy 3, 207–219 (2003).

  10. Forster, P. M. et al. Atmos. Environ. 40, 1117–1121 (2006).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Noppel, F. & Singh, R. J. Aircraft 44, 1721–1726 (2007).

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Olivier Boucher.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Boucher, O. Seeing through contrails. Nature Clim Change 1, 24–25 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1038/nclimate1078

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/nclimate1078

Further reading

Search

Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing