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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2018-993
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2018-993
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 23 Oct 2018

Research article | 23 Oct 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP).

Northern Hemisphere Contrail Properties Derived from Terra and Aqua MODIS Data for 2006 and 2012

David P. Duda1, Sarah T. Bedka1, Patrick Minnis1, Douglas Spangenberg1, Konstantin Khlopenkov1, Thad Chee1, and William L. Smith Jr.2 David P. Duda et al.
  • 1Science Systems and App lications, Inc., Hampton, VA 23666-5986, USA
  • 2NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, VA 23681-2199, USA

Abstract. Linear contrail coverage, optical property, and radiative forcing data over the Northern Hemisphere (NH) are derived from a year (2012) of Terra and Aqua Moderate-resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) imagery, and are compared with previously published 2006 results (Duda et al., 2013; Bedka et al., 2013; Spangenberg et al., 2013) using a consistent retrieval methodology. Differences in the observed Terra-minus-Aqua screened contrail coverage and patterns in the 2012 annual-mean air traffic estimated with respect to satellite overpass time suggest that most contrails detected by the contrail detection algorithm (CDA) form approximately 2h before overpass time. The 2012 screened NH contrail coverage (Mask B) shows a relative 3% increase (from 0.136% to 0.140%) compared to 2006 data for Terra and increased by almost 7% (0.134% to 0.143%) for Aqua. A new post-processing algorithm added to the contrail mask processing estimated that the total contrail cirrus coverage visible in the MODIS imagery may be three to four times larger than the linear contrail coverage detected by the CDA. This estimate is similar in magnitude to the spreading factor estimated by Minnis et al. (2013). Contrail property retrievals of the 2012 data indicate that both contrail optical depth and contrail effective diameter decreased approximately 10% between 2006 and 2012. The decreases may be attributed to better background cloudiness characterization, changes in the waypoint screening, or changes in contrail temperature. The total mean contrail radiative forcing (TCRF) for all 2012 Terra observations were −6.3, 14.3, and 8.0mWm−2 for the shortwave (SWCRF), longwave (LWCRF), and net forcings, respectively. These values are approximately 20% less than the corresponding 2006 Terra estimates. The decline in TCRF results from the decrease in normalized CRF, partially offset by the 3% increase in overall contrail coverage in 2012. The TCRFs for 2012 Aqua are similar, −6.4, 15.5, and 9.0mWm−2 for shortwave, longwave, and net radiative forcing. The strong correlation between the relative changes in both total SWCRF and LWCRF between 2006 and 2012 and the corresponding relative changes in screened contrail coverage over each air traffic region suggests that regional changes in TCRF from year to year are dominated by interannual changes in contrail coverage over each area.

David P. Duda et al.
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David P. Duda et al.
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Short summary
We use one year (2012) of satellite imagery obtained from two NASA research satellites, Terra and Aqua, to detect linear contrail coverage and to estimate their physical properties over the Northern Hemisphere. The satellite-derived properties are compared with results collected from the same sensors in 2006 to estimate whether the impact of contrail coverage on climate has changed. The study is the first of its kind to measure contrail properties over a near-global scale from satellite imagery.
We use one year (2012) of satellite imagery obtained from two NASA research satellites, Terra...
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