Mountain explodes. Blue skies!
April 17, 2010 11:12 AM   Subscribe

These past few days, with the UK skies clear of air traffic, clouds have been few and far between. To what extent do aeroplane contrails affect cloud formation?

...has there been anything on the web or in the press to suggest that the spotless skies and the lack of air traffic are connected?

I like to think that the two do have something to do with each other but I suspect it's just confirmation bias on my behalf.
posted by run"monty to Science & Nature (8 answers total)
9/11 study: Air traffic affects climate

August 8, 2002 Posted: 1:29 PM EDT (1729 GMT)

(CNN) -- The thin wisps of condensation that trail jet airliners have a significant influence on the climate, according to scientists who studied U.S. skies during a rare interruption in national air traffic after the September 11 terrorist attacks.

posted by SeƱor Pantalones at 11:16 AM on April 17, 2010

It's overcast and rainy in Glasgow today, and our airports are still shut. So either the correlation's not all that strong, or no force of man can hope to beat Glasgow weather.
posted by Catseye at 11:20 AM on April 17, 2010 [4 favorites]

I'd think the ash (very, very dry) would be having a bigger effect than the lack of contrails, even as a very immediate result. (Long term, we know it will make thing cooler)
posted by Some1 at 11:50 AM on April 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

Confirmation bias. The atmosphere over the UK today has been rather dry (relative humidity of 20-30% in the mid-levels of the troposphere) due to being under an upper level ridge. Norway's airspace is closed from what I recall and they have a ton of clouds.
posted by crapmatic at 11:56 AM on April 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

There was thick cloud over the midlands on first day
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 1:00 PM on April 17, 2010

It was clear as day for most of these past few days in south east England, and noticeably cooler than it should have been.
posted by tumples at 2:12 PM on April 17, 2010

AFAIK, Air Traffic contributes to "global dimming" which actually makes it cooler rather than warmer. The excess clouds/vapor apparently more than compensate for the CO2 emitted by the engines in terms of temperatures down below.

*There are still plenty of very bad things about CO2 emissions. However, in terms of local effects of air traffic, the consensus seems to be that there's a net temperature reduction...
posted by schmod at 6:49 PM on April 17, 2010

On second thought, any meteorological effects caused by the lack of planes in the sky over Europe are almost definitely going to be offset by the fact that a %*#$&ing volcano just went off.
posted by schmod at 9:16 PM on April 17, 2010 [2 favorites]

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