Longer Airlines Flights Proposed to Combat Global Warming

Jetliner contrails seen contributing to global warming by trapping earth's heat, leading to suggestion by researchers at London's Imperial College to reduce altitudes to prevent cloud formation.

Published: 27-Jan-2005

Tendrils of condensation that mark the paths of high-flying jets sometimes form a loose lacework of man-made clouds in the upper atmosphere. The extra blanket of atmospheric insulation from these spreading contrails, as they are called, could accelerate global warming, studies have shown.

Now a group of researchers says something should be done. Their proposal would lengthen the typical airline flight.

High-altitude cirrus clouds, both natural and jet-induced, are unlike thicker low-altitude clouds, which block sunlight from reaching the surface. The thinner cirrus, which float in the sky at 20,000 feet or higher, act like a see-through blanket – letting sunlight pass in, while trapping reflected heat.


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