Thursday, February 09, 2006

Jets may hurt atmosphere

By Kathryn DeVan email
Collegian Staff Writer

Jet traffic may be having a negative impact on the environment by causing the atmosphere to warm up, according to a recent study conducted by Penn State geography Professor Andrew Carleton and David Travis, geography and geology professor at University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

"As [contrails] persist and spread out, they become thinner, which means they probably trap more long-wave radiation from Earth's surface, having a warming effect," Carleton said.

He added that as the amount of vapor trails increases, it covers more surface area, which traps more sunlight and allows for even more warming.

Over the course of three years, the research has looked at the effect of jet traffic on the environment by looking at air temperature. Carleton and Travis used satellite data to look at how jet contrails, or jets' vapor trails, have changed with increased air traffic.

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