Chemtrails or Contrails? Another Alarmist Issue Without Scientific Context.
“It occurred to me….” To avoid political correctness and say what they really think people say, let me play Devil’s Advocate.
One minute people say government does too much, the next they demand action to resolve problems. Environmentalists demand government stop global warming, but oppose remedial actions like spreading iron filings on the oceans to increase uptake of CO2 or spraying chemicals into the atmosphere to create clouds (chemtrails) to block sunlight and reduce global temperatures. Both actions are wrong because they constitute geo-engineering – governments playing God. The real problem is neither governments nor opponents know what is happening, but think they do, so demand action. Doing nothing is better if you don’t understand, contrary to the false claim of the precautionary principle. Environmental issues are a war and as Aeschylus said “In war truth is the first casualty”.
Figure 1 shows the different atmospheric layers each defined by temperature changes that reflect different chemistry.
Figure 1: General Layers of the Atmosphere
The critical boundary is the Tropopause between the Troposphere, where 99% of the weather occurs, and the Stratosphere. It’s a very distinct boundary marking different density of gases and a change in temperature from a decrease with altitude to an increase. There are few gases thinly spread in the Stratosphere.
Figure 1 shows the Tropopause at 17 km. Actually, this varies considerably from Equator to Poles, mostly because of temperature. Seasonal temperatures also create differences. Variation at the Equator is 17 km (winter) to 19 km (summer). At the Poles it is 7km (winter) to 10 km (summer). Seasonal range is greater at the Poles because of greater seasonal temperature range.
Figure 2 Tropopause Cross-section.
PFJ =Polar Front Jet; STJ = SubTropical Jet
Twenty years ago my graduate class in Applied Climatology involved a briefing as a commercial pilot flying from Winnipeg to Vancouver. I realized most flights were partly in the lower Stratosphere. Since then these flights have increased because of better aircraft pressurization and more efficient engines in colder temperatures at higher altitudes.
I learned of changing flight patterns when flying search and rescue in northern and Arctic Canada. Flights increased significantly because of the end of the Cold War. with Existant depuis deux petites annees seulement, le machine a sous en ligne avec croupiers en direct, ou live machine a sous , fait quant a lui deja un tabac. more flights over greater distances and different routes. The amount of traffic has increased significantly, especially the number of flights to Asia, most of which fly out of North America using “great circle” routes that brings them over western North America and Alaska or over the Pole.
Great circle routes take Asian bound aircraft across the general westerly flow of the upper level winds. This means condensation trails and high level clouds, especially Cirrus and contrails in the lower stratosphere are being dispersed in the same direction. Temperatures at these altitudes mean most of the gases condense directly to ice crystals. This makes them very visible, but also slow to dissipate.
A Contrail is exhaust from an aircraft engine cooling very rapidly below the dew point temperature and condensing into a visible trail of microscopic droplets. Through binoculars you can see the gap between the jet engine and the beginning of the trail. Earlier I mentioned that the gas constituency of the lower Stratosphere, where these planes fly, is different being much thinner and colder than in the upper Troposphere. Aircraft exhaust is a much higher percentage of total gas in the Stratosphere. This creates very different contrails, rates of dissipation and other factors. I mentioned that there are clouds in the lower Stratosphere called Noctilucent clouds. Here are some pictures of these clouds from Wikipedia.
Compare those images with these of Cirrus clouds also retrieved from Wikipedia.
Many confuse noctilucent clouds with chemtrails or contrails. Many confuse lower stratosphere contrails with chemtrails. It’s probably because most they want to see chemtrails. I’ve received many photos as evidence of chemtrails that are contrails, high cirrus or noctilucent events.
Noctilucent cloud occurrences are reportedly increasing. Is it possible the increase is because noctilucent clouds
“ …are most commonly observed in the summer months at latitudes between 50° and 70° north and south of the equator.”
These are the latitudes at which most flight increases have occurred. It is likely the increase in reported chemtrails are actually contrails from lower stratosphere flights.
There may be issues with flights in the stratosphere but nobody is really looking, possibly because the obvious solution is politically unattractive. Fuel consumption increases at lower altitudes. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) doesn’t include the lower Stratosphere in their models. From the 2007 Science report,
“Due to the computational cost associated with the requirement of a well-resolved stratosphere, the models employed for the current assessment do not generally include the QBO.”
The QBO is linked with El Nino/La Nina. They, as well as ozone and clouds in the Stratosphere, are significant factors in Tropospheric weather. Some claim Stratospheric changes explain global temperatures better than IPCC and other models. Lu et al wrote
“All the observed, analytical and theoretical results presented lead to a convincing conclusion that both the CRE (cosmic-ray driven electron-induced-reaction) mechanism and the CFC-warming mechanism not only provide new fundamental understandings of the O3 hole and global climate change but have superior predictive capabilities, compared with the conventional models.”
We need answers from science free from politics. People need to sort out what actions and issues governments should be taking, but we can only do that if we understand the issues. Since we don’t, it is better to do nothing. We must avoid the irresponsibility of the precautionary principle.