Contrail Analysis II

(c) Ian Williams Goddard

In my previous contrail analysis we observed that contrail persistence, or non-evaporation, is a function of relative humidity. However, the fallacy that contrail persistence is abnormal persists and is the primary basis of claims that persistent contrails are actually poison being sprayed on civilians by military jets. Since the military has sprayed experimental substances on U.S. populations in the past, claims to that effect deserve careful analysis. Such analysis reveals that contrail persistence is absolutely normal and is not evidence of spraying.

All the photographs below were taken by me on March 5, 1999. They show unique ice-cloud formations and provide further confirmation that contrail-persistance patterns are a function of natual atmospheric conditions. The first image captures what are known as fall streaks coming off a contrail.

A contrail is a linear cloud of condensation formed as hot air streaming from a jet engine mixes with cold air. Like a naturally occurring cloud of condensation, a contrail may evaporate or grow depending upon atmospheric conditions such as relative humidity.

The next photo taken while looking straight up shows a significantly expanded contrail running across the photo from which hair-like streams of crystallized condensation are being spread horizontally by the wind. This contrail with a "gray beard" is much older than the contrail running across the lower-left corner of the photo.

The following photographs reveal that naturally-occurring-condensation clouds also had a hair-like structure on that windy and cold winter day.

All these photographs show natural clouds not far from the contrails seen above.

Seeing an identical hair-like fall-streak structures in natural clouds verifies that the persistence patterns of the contrails in the first two photos are consistent with the effects natural atmospheric conditions were having that day on any frozen condensation, whether from a contrail or a natural cloud. So if natural clouds can persist, contrails can too.

Ice content of the clouds was confirmed by frequent bright and slightly rainbow-colored solar reflections off them toward sunset. In the first photo of this pair, a solar reflection exists on a cloud in the upper right-side quadrant. In the second photo, a smaller solar reflection is visible just touching the left side of the large contrail.

Broken contrails: notice that the large persistent contrail in the first photo is broken. Some claim that a broken contrail means it's not condensation but a substance that was intermittently sprayed. Actually this phenomenon has been shown to be the result of the fact that the atmosphere is not a uniform medium, but is instead a turbulent patchwork of intermingling pockets, layers, and strata containing air with different temperatures, wind speeds, and levels of humidity. The contrail above initially existed in all locations but quickly dispersed only in those pockets of atmosphere the jet passed through that were not conducive to contrail persistence.

Different strata: notice that slightly above center in the second photo there is a new and fast-evaporating contrail that looks like a small comet. The jet was much higher than the thin cloud cover through which it is seen. Some argue that this phenomena means the persistent contrail seen below those clouds in the same photo must be spray, since another contrail "in the area" is evaporating.

That argument is only as plausible as the atmosphere is uniform, which it is not. The persistent contrail is near clouds in an area largely favorable to condensation. The evaporating contrail is in a higher and obviously drier atmospheric strata. In all these photos, there is only evidence of predictable atmospheric physics.

More identical structures: the following photo shows the fading remnants of a persistent and expanded contrail, which runs across the lower half of the photo:

Notice that the structure of the natural cloud formation above the expanded and fading contrail is basically identical to the structure of the contrail. In my previous contrail analysis we observed examples of similarities between contrails and surrounding natural clouds not only once but twice. In this analysis we have two more examples. So we have four examples in all of contrails being integrated into the natural cloud dynamics of the day.

CONCLUSION: both my previous contrail analysis and this follow-up present photographic verification that contrails do the same things that the natural clouds of condensation around them do; which demonstrates that what a contrail does -- whether it evaporates quickly or slowly expands into one of many patterns -- is a function of the natural atmospheric conditions in which it was formed. This is no new revelation, just as contrail persistence is neither a mysterious phenomenon nor evidence of spraying.


This report was first published on March 15, 1999 and has been updated. The photos above are not to be used without permission.

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Jay Reynolds

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The Debunker

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More Contrails in Winter

Aircraft Emissions


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