First Blog

Mar 07, 2022

Contrails, those thin white man-made clouds that form as exhaust gases from an aircraft, cool and mix with the surrounding air. These unassuming clouds that are abundant in the skies above us, actually have a measurable impact on climate change.

Obviously, Climate change is one of the most pressing problems that face our society today. Transportation is a significant contributor to climate change as 28% of greenhouse emissions in the United State, with civilian aircraft contributing a sizable portion of emissions. Civilian aircraft currently emit around 2% of CO2 that is emitted in our everyday activities. However, this ignores the effect that aircraft-induced clouds aka contrails have on warming. Contrail formation blocks the light that is reflected off the ground, heating the area underneath the cloud. when you include the impact that contrails have as well, that percentage goes up to 5% of the warming caused by aircraft. Such a great increase in percentage should not go unnoticed as they have a significant impact on warming.

My name is Kaan and for my senior project, I aim to research potential methods of limiting the impact that contrails have on climate change and hope to come up with a realistic, achievable goal that we can implement as soon as possible.

I will be interning at the Center for Air Transportation Systems research where I will be assisting in ongoing research projects directed by Dr. Lance Sherry. I believe that my research there will help better my ability to conduct research and contribute to my understanding of the subject.

2 Replies to “First Blog”

  1. Sophie P. says:

    Hi Kaan! This project sounds super relevant and important to combatting climate change, but is focused enough that is seems achievable. I am curious how you will be conducting your research; is this a subject that Dr. Lance Sherry is already studying or are you going to research independently (for instance by reading past studies and literature)? Your goals are ambitious, and I can’t wait to see what ideas you come up with!

  2. Dr. Hartman says:

    Can you elaborate more on how the contrails block the UV light from reflecting back into the atmosphere? Why are the UV rays able to enter but not leave? Are you only focusing on CO2? What is so special about CO2?

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