Disappearance of vapour trails - more warming?

In summary, researchers noticed a 10% increase in solar radiation at ground level during the grounding of airline fleets after 9-11, leading to an increase in plant growth. Similar conditions are now being observed due to the lack of vapor trails, resulting in clearer skies and potential impacts on crop production. Some believe that this could lead to a higher temperature difference between night and day, as seen in the Travis Paper from 2002. Further research is needed to fully understand the potential effects of this phenomenon.
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wildoats
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As we observe the almost complete disappearance of vapour trails as aircraft fleets are grounded under Coronavirus restrictions, I'm wondering if any research is being done on the effects on climate, if any, by the reduction in consequent cloud cover.
I think it was back around the 9-11 events that South African researchers happened to notice that solar radiation received at ground level increased by around 10% during the grounding of airline fleets world wide. If I remember correctly, this led to a measurable increase in plant growth over that short period.
We are now experiencing a similar situation, where the lack of vapour trails, which often seed the development of cloud cover, is resulting in much clearer skies.
On the one hand, the extra cloud cover would reflect some radiation back into space, resulting in a degree of cooling, but on the other hand the cloud blanket at night would act as an insulator and reduce overnight heat loss. Meanwhile unrestricted skies in daytime would allow, I feel, much higher levels of radiation to reach ground level.
So - does anyone know of any hard research taking place on this - I think it may have significant impact on crop production.
 
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An increase in the temperature difference between night and day was noted: Travis Paper.
That link is to: NATURE | VOL 418 | 8 AUGUST 2002

I did enjoy the night sky last night - no contrails - no landing lights - no blinking red or green lights.
If I had gotten out earlier, I could have spotted satellites more easily.
 
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I haven't heard about this before, but it's definitely an interesting theory. It makes sense that the lack of vapor trails would result in clearer skies and potentially higher levels of solar radiation reaching the ground. I could see how this could impact crop production, especially if there are significant changes in temperature and sunlight exposure. I'll have to do some research on this myself and see if there are any studies or data supporting this idea. Thanks for bringing it up!
 

1. Why are vapour trails disappearing?

Vapour trails, also known as contrails, are formed when water vapor from aircraft exhaust mixes with the cold air in the upper atmosphere. As the air temperature and humidity levels change, so do the conditions for contrail formation. In recent years, with the Earth's atmosphere becoming warmer, there has been a decrease in the number of contrails being formed.

2. How does the disappearance of vapour trails contribute to warming?

Contrails have a warming effect on the Earth's atmosphere, as they trap heat and prevent it from escaping into space. With fewer contrails being formed, there is less warming occurring in the upper atmosphere, leading to an overall cooling effect.

3. Are there any other factors besides warming that could explain the disappearance of vapour trails?

Yes, there are other factors that could contribute to the disappearance of vapour trails. Changes in air traffic patterns, advancements in aircraft technology, and stricter regulations on aircraft emissions can also impact the formation of contrails.

4. Will the disappearance of vapour trails have a significant impact on global warming?

The impact of the disappearance of vapour trails on global warming is still being studied. While it may have a cooling effect in the upper atmosphere, it is important to consider the overall emissions from air travel and their contribution to climate change. Additionally, other factors such as cloud cover and atmospheric conditions can also affect the Earth's temperature.

5. Can we expect vapour trails to completely disappear in the future?

It is unlikely that vapour trails will completely disappear in the future. As air traffic continues to increase, so will the formation of contrails. However, with advancements in technology and efforts to reduce emissions, we may see a decrease in the number of contrails being formed, leading to a smaller impact on global warming.

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