The DLR has chimed in with recent research about contrail coverage during the low-air-travel period.
Travel restrictions put in place to stem the COVID-19 pandemic have led to a massive decline in global air traffic since mid-March 2020. The European air traffic control authority, EUROCONTROL has reported that the volume of European air traffic in April 2020 declined by almost 90 percent compared to the beginning of the previous month. Researchers at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) have now analysed the impact of reduced air traffic on the formation of condensation trails over Europe by measuring cloud properties. They used data acquired on 16 April 2020 by the ‘Spinning Enhanced Visible and Infrared Imager' (SEVIRI) sensor on a Meteosat Second Generation (MSG) weather satellite for this purpose. On that day, the atmosphere over Europe was cold and humid enough for long-lasting condensation trails to form behind aircraft. The analyses show a decrease in the number of contrails formed to about one tenth, compared to normal operations.