Ships leave invisible contrails that cool the climate a bit

(ORDO NEWS) — To figure this out, the researchers mapped the paths of two million ships in the Atlantic Ocean over a six-year period and used a global database of winds along the trade routes ships traveled to see where their aerosols would go.

They then used a different database of cloud properties to see how those clouds were affected.

In the end, the researchers found that where they predicted the aerosols would land, there were cloud trails with fewer droplets but more liquid water.

This slightly changes the overall reflectivity of the clouds and, more importantly, a larger ratio of water to droplets implies a stronger cooling effect, so the clouds will reflect more radiation back to the sun.

This results in a cooling effect of anthropogenic aerosols, which, measured as the amount of water between two points in the atmosphere, is -0.76 watts per square meter, which is very different from the heating effect of 0.2 watts per square meter.


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