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Plane exhaust putting heat on climate, research suggests

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    Plane exhaust putting heat on climate, research suggests By Traci Watson, USA TODAY 4/28/04 A study by a NASA researcher suggests that exhaust from planes
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 30, 2004
      Plane exhaust putting heat on climate, research suggests
      By Traci Watson, USA TODAY
      4/28/04

      A study by a NASA researcher suggests that exhaust from planes plays a
      significant role in the climate of the USA.

      Contrails, the thin, white clouds that planes leave behind in the sky,
      are
      responsible for a portion of the warming recorded in the USA from 1975 to
      1994, says Patrick Minnis of NASA's Langley Research Center in Virginia.
      During that period, the USA's average temperature rose by 1 degree �
      hardly
      a heat wave, but significant by climate standards.

      The finding is likely to make contrails, the subject of much research and
      debate, more of a focus for scientists who monitor the nation's climate.

      Attention so far has focused on "greenhouse gases," which trap heat in
      the
      atmosphere. They are created by the burning of coal, gas and other fossil
      fuels. The new research provides the best evidence yet that contrails are
      adding to the warming caused by greenhouse gases.

      "It suggests we may be having a double whammy here," says Andrew
      Carleton, a
      climate expert at Pennsylvania State University. "It's not good news for
      the
      Earth when you've got greenhouse gas increases and you've got ...
      contrails
      (that) seem to warm the surface of the Earth."

      If atmospheric conditions are just right, the contrail can form a cirrus
      cloud. Such clouds are the feathery ones seen high in the sky. (Related:
      Contrails from the National Weather Service)

      No matter how they form, cirrus clouds help warm the Earth's surface by
      trapping heat, much like a layer of blankets.

      Minnis reports that the conditions necessary to create natural cirrus
      clouds
      did not become more common from the 1970s to the 1990s. The only other
      possible cause of the growth in cirrus clouds: the increase in air
      traffic.

      He also found that the clouds created by those planes' contrails could
      have
      been responsible for nearly all of the 1-degree rise in the USA's average
      temperature.

      Minnis acknowledges that it's difficult to calculate exactly how much of
      the
      U.S. warming is attributable to contrails. It could be only a small
      fraction. Even so, he says, the contribution is "significant."

      =======

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      Jack Saporito, Acting Vice-president
      The American Working Group for National Policy
      Executive Director,
      The Alliance of Residents Concerning O'Hare
      Past-president, US-Citizens Aviation Watch Association (1997-2002)
      POB 1702
      Arlington Hts., IL 60006-1702
      Phone: (630) 415-3370
      Fax: (847) 506-0202
      Email: <jack@...>
      www.areco.org

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