Monday, November 28, 2005

ESA - Observing the Earth - Earth from Space: Contrails over the United States


Aircraft condensation trails or 'contrails' are clearly visible slicing across the East Coast of the United States in this Envisat image.

The image stretches south from the US-Canadian border down to the Appalachian Mountains and east from Ohio to New York, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland.

A dense collection of the straight clouds called contrails is seen between the cities of Cincinnati, Columbus and Pittsburgh. Exhaust emissions from jet aircraft contain large amounts of water vapour which, under certain atmospheric states, will condense to form ice crystals. These act as condensation nuclei around which even more water vapour in the surrounding air condenses. The end result is the formation of an elongated cloud-like condensation trail in the sky.
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