Contrails of small and very large optical depth

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Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences, ISSN: 0022-4928, Vol: 67, Issue: 9, Page: 3065-3073

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Atlas, David; Wang, Zhien
American Meteorological Society
Earth and Planetary Sciences; Extinction coefficients; Geostationary operational environmental satellites; High resolution; Ice water content; Lidar observation; Maximum values; Midlatitudes; Optical depth; Optical phenomena; Optical thickness; Optically clear; Radar reflectivities; Satellite observations; Ultrasensitive; Wind directions; Clouds; Condensation; Geostationary satellites; Optical radar; Radar; Water content; Radar measurement; cirrus; clear sky; cloud condensation nucleus; cloud microphysics; contrail; GOES; lidar; optical depth; water content; Engineering
article description
This work deals with two kinds of contrails. The first comprises a large number of optically thin contrails near the tropopause. They are mapped geographically using a lidar to obtain their height and a camera to obtain azimuth and elevation. These high-resolution maps provide the local contrail geometry and the amount of optically clear atmosphere. The second kind is a single trail of unprecedentedly large optical thickness that occurs at a lower height. The latter was observed fortuitously when an aircraft moving along the wind direction passed over the lidar, thus providing measurements for more than 3 h and an equivalent distance of 620 km. It was also observed by Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) sensors. The lidar measured an optical depth of 2.3. The corresponding extinction coefficient of 0.023 kmand ice water content of 0.063 g mare close to the maximum values found for midlatitude cirrus. The associated large radar reflectivity compares to that measured by ultrasensitive radar, thus providing support for the reality of the large optical depth. © 2010 American Meteorological Society.