Contrails over Virginia

December 18th, 2017 |

GOES-16

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm, top), Near-Infrared “Cirrus (1.38 µm, center) and “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm, bottom) images [click to play animation]

A comparison of GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm), Near-Infrared “Cirrus (1.38 µm) and “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm) images (above) revealed a number of aircraft contrails drifting eastward across Virginia during the morning hours on 18 December 2017. Note how many of the individual contrails were easier to identify and follow in the sequence of 1-minute interval Mesoscale Sector images.

A Cirrus band is also available on the MODIS instrument (aboard Terra and Aqua) as well as the VIIRS instrument (aboard Suomi NPP and NOAA-20) — a toggle between the Terra MODIS Cirrus (1.375 µm),  Infrared Window (11.0 µm) and Visible (0.65 µm) images at 1607 UTC (below) again showed that contrails and other ice crystal cloud features were better highlighted on the Cirrus image.

Terra MODIS Cirrus (1.375 µm), Infrared Window (11.0 µm) and Visible (0.65 µm) images [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS Cirrus (1.375 µm), Infrared Window (11.0 µm) and Visible (0.65 µm) images [click to enlarge]

The 12 UTC rawinsonde profile from Washington Dulles Airport in northern Virginia (below) showed a relatively moist layer in the upper troposphere near the 300 hPa (9.5 km or 31,000 ft) level, which is a common altitude for commercial jets to fly — this likely contributed to the longevity of many of the contrail features.

Rawinsonde profile from Washington Dulles Airport in Virginia [click to enlarge]

Rawinsonde profile from Washington Dulles Airport in Virginia [click to enlarge]