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Publication . Article . Conference object . Other literature type . 2020

Climate impact of aircraft-induced cirrus assessed from satellite observations before and during COVID-19

Johannes Quaas; Edward Gryspeerdt; Robert Vautard; Olivier Boucher;
Open Access   English  
Abstract
Abstract Aircraft produce condensation trails, which are thought to increase high-level cloudiness under certain conditions. However the magnitude of such an effect and whether this contributes substantially to the radiative forcing due to the aviation sector remain uncertain. The very substantial, near-global reduction in air traffic in response to the COVID-19 outbreak offers an unprecedented opportunity to identify the anthropogenic contribution to the observed cirrus coverage and thickness. Here we show, using an analysis of satellite observations for the period March–May 2020, that in the 20% of the Northern Hemisphere mid-latitudes with the largest air traffic reduction, cirrus fraction was reduced by ∼9 ± 1.5% on average, and cirrus emissivity was reduced by ∼2 ± 5% relative to what they should have been with normal air traffic. The changes are corroborated by a consistent estimate based on linear trends over the period 2011–2019. The change in cirrus translates to a global radiative forcing of 61 ± 39 mW m−2. This estimate is somewhat smaller than previous assessments.
Subjects by Vocabulary

Microsoft Academic Graph classification: Environmental science Cirrus Satellite Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) Atmospheric sciences Emissivity Cloud cover Radiative forcing Magnitude (mathematics) Northern Hemisphere

Subjects

aviation-induced cirrus, aviation climate forcing, COVID-19, [SDV]Life Sciences [q-bio], Science & Technology, Life Sciences & Biomedicine, Physical Sciences, Environmental Sciences, Meteorology & Atmospheric Sciences, Environmental Sciences & Ecology, DIURNAL TEMPERATURE-RANGE, CONTRAILS, TERRA, Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health, General Environmental Science, Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment

Funded by
EC| ACACIA
Project
ACACIA
Advancing the Science for Aviation and ClimAte
  • Funder: European Commission (EC)
  • Project Code: 875036
  • Funding stream: H2020 | RIA
Validated by funder
,
EC| CONSTRAIN
Project
CONSTRAIN
Constraining uncertainty of multi decadal climate projections
  • Funder: European Commission (EC)
  • Project Code: 820829
  • Funding stream: H2020 | RIA
Validated by funder
,
EC| FORCeS
Project
FORCeS
Constrained aerosol forcing for improved climate projections
  • Funder: European Commission (EC)
  • Project Code: 821205
  • Funding stream: H2020 | RIA
Validated by funder
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