Debunking "Contrails don't Persist" with a Study of 70 Years of Books on Clouds

Graham2001

Active Member
A 1905 book on clouds has been uploaded to Project Gutenberg, the scans of the illustrations are not perfect, but the show quite clearly that clouds back then look like clouds now.

Cloud Studies by Arthur W. Clayden (1905)

http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/55126

The authors introduction recommends the book to meteorologists, artists and anyone who is interested in the sky.
 

SR1419

Senior Member

mikret

New Member
Result: Every single book on clouds that I could find for the last 70 years says that contrails can persist for hours.

can persist for hours - --
I'm not sure that a few hours, but I'm sure that I watched 30-40 minutes ..
everything depends on the weather and the airplane.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
can persist for hours - --
I'm not sure that a few hours, but I'm sure that I watched 30-40 minutes ..
everything depends on the weather and the airplane.
To see them persist for hours you usually have to look at satellite image, as the wind has generally carried them out of view after a couple of hours. They also spread out, and it's hard to distinguish them from other clouds.

I think more commonly people see contrail cover that last hours, and don't realize it's from different contrails. Like:
Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQekGClN5GE
 

L. Baker

New Member
One problem I have in telling people that contrails can actually persist, and can even spread out to cover the sky, is that people tend to be suspicious of random people on the internet. So I decided to simply let 70 years of books on clouds speak for themselves.
There are many things to consider when talking about contrail formation. Just off the top of my head, and not in any particular order:

1. Atmospheric profile (temperature, humidity, and pressure with respect to height.)
2. Partial vapour pressure with respect to ice.
3. Partial vapour pressure with respect to water.
4. Condensation (or sublimation) nuclei.
5. Cosmic radiation levels.
6. Fuel and exhaust gas composition.
7. Aircraft velocity.
8. Aircraft elevation.
9. Aircraft type
10. Engine types and configuration.
11. Wake turbulence.
12. Exhaust turbulence.
13. Exhaust velocity and volume.
14. Atmospheric winds
15. Season
16. Time of day
17. Latitude and longtitude
16. Angle of view
17. Sizes, shapes, and properties of constituent water droplets or ice crystals.
18. Additional layers of clouds or contrails)
.

Remember that all of these things determine what a contrail will look like from the ground. You cannot start with the "look" of or shape of a contrail and make statements about what all the determining factors are. That is pure silliness and is a trap that many fall into.
 
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Mick West

Administrator
Staff member


This has been posted before, but the version I saw before was the reprint without the last paragraph. This is the original, from:
https://books.google.com/books?id=N...ts=bpfzssIufW&pg=RA4-PA13#v=onepage&q&f=false

It's interesting because even back then, in the very first few times that planes had flown at that altitude, the causes of contrail cloud formation were broadly understood.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Lieutenant MacReady was quite the badass back then, there's more detailed accounts of his flights here:
https://media.defense.gov/2011/Apr/25/2001330216/-1/-1/0/110425-D-LN615-004.pdf

With some early chemtrailing (Actually cropdusting, also in 1921):
Metabunk 2018-02-17 10-26-14.jpg

His own account of the 1921 flight (attached) is fascinating, although he does not mention the contrails — presumably not having seen them form behind him (or it might actually have been a later flight)
 

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Graham2001

Active Member
Not a book, but a 1920 film (With modern royalty free music.) about clouds by the US Department of Agriculture, again it shows that clouds back then are no different from clouds now.

 

Leifer

Senior Member
Ere
20181214_123335.jpg 20181214_123322.jpg 20181216_003058.jpg 20181216_003155.jpg Here are some photo records of an encyclopedia from 1988...describing "contrails".
This evidence was found in a "group buy" of cheap, nearly uselessbooks for theatre background decoration.
One of them was World Encyclopedia 1988.
 

Trailblazer

Moderator
Staff member
Not a cloud book, but I'm reading the diaries of the politician Alan Clark (1928-1999), and this entry from summer 1983 caught my eye:

upload_2019-4-17_11-43-53.png

Google Books link

Clearly describing persistent spreading contrails over southern England.
 

Scaramanga

New Member
Chemtrail advocates often say that they've only started seeing parallel lines of cirrus type clouds in the sky in recent years. Well...one of the things I inherited from a relative who was in the RAF Royal Observer Corps was a copy of the 1938 Meteorological Glossary. And here is what it says on cirrus clouds...


img163.jpg
 

Normah

New Member
One problem I have in telling people that contrails can actually persist, and can even spread out to cover the sky, is that people tend to be suspicious of random people on the internet. So I decided to simply let 70 years of books on clouds speak for themselves.


Result: Every single book on clouds that I could find for the last 70 years says that contrails can persist for hours.
The problem is that we're seeing persistent contrails in the dead heat of summer which is nowhere near -40 C.
 
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Miss VocalCord

Active Member

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Trailblazer

Moderator
Staff member
The problem is that we're seeing persistent contrails in the dead heat of summer which is nowhere near -40 C.
Many passenger airliners have information displays on the TV screens on board which show the current altitude, speed, location and often the external air temperature. Have a look next time you are on a plane. No matter how hot it is on the ground, chances are it will be somewhere in the -40C range or below when you are at cruising altitude.

1580991928214.png
 
Almost counter-intuitively, higher surface temperatures actually increase icing conditions at altitude. Specifically, small ice crystals affecting engines and sensors are more likely to form in relation to thunderstorm systems and tropical storms, two places with surface temperatures higher than normal. Most of the research right now is going into figuring out what size the ice crystals are and how, exactly, they're formed because they currently can't be tracked on radar.

https://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/full/10.1175/JTECH-D-15-0246.1
What that's saying is that in the course of that particular study, that the areas around a tropical storm were producing more ice at altitude than regular thunderstorms, despite the temperature at altitude being the same. The higher water and surface temperatures under a tropical storm are lofting more moisture up to the level where ice can form, because there's a higher rate of evaporation.
 
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