From: Editor, Science Daily
Published July 11, 2011 01:15 PM

World War II Bombing Raids Offer New Insight Into the Effects of Aviation On Climate

ScienceDaily (July 8, 2011) — Climate researchers have turned to the Allied bombing raids of the Second World War for a unique opportunity to study the effect thousands of aircraft had on the English climate at a time when civilian aviation remained rare. The study, published in the International Journal of Climatology, reveals how civilian and military records can help assess the impact of modern aviation on the climate today.


The research, led by Prof Rob MacKenzie, now at the University of Birmingham, and Prof Roger Timmis of the Environment Agency, used historical data to investigate the levels of Aircraft Induced Cloudiness (AIC) caused by the contrails of Allied bombers flying from England to targets in Europe. The team focused their research on 1943 to 1945 after the United States Army Air force (USAAF) joined the air campaign.

"Witnesses to the huge bombing formations recall that the sky was turned white by aircraft contrails," said MacKenzie. "It was apparent to us that the Allied bombing of WW2 represented an inadvertent environmental experiment on the ability of aircraft contrails to affect the energy coming into and out of the Earth at that location."

Aircraft can affect cloudiness by creating contrails, formed when the hot, aerosol-laden, air from aircraft engines mixes with the cold air of the upper troposphere. While some contrails disappear swiftly, others form widespread cirrus clouds which intercept both the energy coming into the planet as sunshine and that leaving the planet as infrared heat.

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