Squiggly Sinusoidal Thin Contrails over Europe

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Update: See likely explanation here:
https://www.metabunk.org/threads/si...y-hybrid-contrails-the-rook-instability.4539/


Photo: Christophe EECKHAUT, (c) CAELESTIA/Belgisch UFO-meldpunt




Photo: André DILDICK, (c) CAELESTIA/Belgisch UFO-meldpunt




Via email:
 

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Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
These are very interesting trails, they have the appearance of the hybrid part of a contrail (the portion of an exhaust contrail made more dense and persistent by the wake vortex), which you often see in loops and curls, but in pairs, and broken up. Like:
http://contrailscience.com/hybrid-contrails-a-new-classification/


Yet the squiggly trails are continuous single trails.

They are not just over the Low Country (Netherlands/Belgium), here's a reported example over Poland showing identical structure.
http://projectavalon.net/forum4/showthread.php?45677-interesting-contrail&p=496936#post496936



These photos appear to show a similar phenomenon over Kansas City, USA. With the trail starting squiggly, and getting progressively more so:
http://geekswithblogs.net/jjulian/archive/2007/12/17/117790.aspx
 

captfitch

Senior Member.
There's something fishy about that first photo. I would say that there was a very brightly lit, reflective, jet that they took a long exposure of and moved the camera. The motion looks repetative, there are little flare-ups in the line and it's almost perfectly uniform throughout. It's just too perfect. So they long exposed the jet and then held the camera still to get the background.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
One theory I have is that this is a contrail that has become entrained in a horizontal rolling mass of air. Essentially a normal contrail that has been "rolled up" and only the dense core survives, and get progressively more sinusoidal.

I don't feel this adequately explains the first photo though, as the curves are so dramatic, and the contrail very solid looking. However, consider the two photos taken seven minutes apart.



Clearly the amplitude of the squiggle has increased greatly in seven minutes. The trail itself also seems to have thickened and spread. This suggest that like the Kansas example it did not start out so dramatically squiggly. Could it have started as a straight line, and then a rotor, or series of rotors in the air have formed it into this type of trail?

[Update] I had the order of the photos the wrong way around. The more compressed photo seems to be more from perspective foreshortening. Wim sent me this photo with a better correction for perspective:


Consider this cloud:


It's a cloud that is twisted inside a rotor of air. Now imagine the cloud is not there, and a plane comes along and leaves a contrail. Could it create the squiggly thin trails we see in the photo?
 
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Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
There's something fishy about that first photo. I would say that there was a very brightly lit, reflective, jet that they took a long exposure of and moved the camera. The motion looks repetative, there are little flare-ups in the line and it's almost perfectly uniform throughout. It's just too perfect. So they long exposed the jet and then held the camera still to get the background.

i don't think so, as it's very similar to other examples, with the little flare-ups (which you see in the hybrid contrails, exactly the same). Compare with the second photo from Poland. This is just an exceptionally nicely lit example.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
It's a cloud that is twisted inside a rotor of air. Now imagine the cloud is not there, and a plane comes along and leaves a contrail. Could it create the squiggly thin trails we see in the photo?
that would explain the inconsistency. I was thinking propeller but the inconsistency didn't make sense.
 

solrey

Senior Member.
Could they be contrails spiraling in horizontal atmospheric vortices?

http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/1520-0469(1965)022<0176:LEITAB>2.0.CO;2

 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Could they be contrails spiraling in horizontal atmospheric vortices?

http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/1520-0469(1965)022<0176:LEITAB>2.0.CO;2


That's essentially what I meant when I said "a contrail that has become entrained in a horizontal rolling mass of air" above.

"Corkscrew" contrails happen, here's one that's obviously shaped by the rotors that form the row clouds:


 

Balance

Senior Member.
What do I know but something doesn't fit right with me, the proportions vs how much they've been distorted from their laid-in-a-straight-line original, plus the varied reflectivity and the "positions" of those high points. Looks more like a "special" effect or as mentioned above - a vibrating camera.


Though I've heard some pilots do like a drink or two...
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
What do I know but something doesn't fit right with me, the proportions vs how much they've been distorted from their laid-in-a-straight-line original, plus the varied reflectivity and the "positions" of those high points. Looks more like a "special" effect or as mentioned above - a vibrating camera.

There's far too many different examples of the same thing. I see no reason to suspect any of the photos.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
What do I know but something doesn't fit right with me, the proportions vs how much they've been distorted from their laid-in-a-straight-line original, plus the varied reflectivity and the "positions" of those high points. Looks more like a "special" effect or as mentioned above - a vibrating camera.


Though I've heard some pilots do like a drink or two...
I think it just got shorter (in viewable length) like if you wrap a hair round your finger.
 

Balance

Senior Member.
There's far too many different examples of the same thing. I see no reason to suspect any of the photos.

Yeah, probably, just thinking out loud without thinking too hard lol.

I think it just got shorter (in viewable length) like if you wrap a hair round your finger.

Yup, could be, just my feeble mind can't imagine why the high-vis points are where they are.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Yup, could be, just my feeble mind can't imagine why the high-vis points are where they are.

Well, note the first two photos are taken from different positions, miles apart. I forgot to add this image, which is Wim's estimate of the position of the trail:
 

WeedWhacker

Senior Member
Windshear, at altitude.

I know there was a long and scientific explanation....but when people begin to learn about windshear, at altitude, then they will begin to better understand why to keep their seatbelts fastened.

In this case the windshear affected the contrails, after the airplane passed. But, again....in clear air, these sorts of air currents cannot be detected. Unless encountered physically, in some way. OR if they happen to manifest due to condensation, and then become visible due to the clouds that are formed as a result.
 

Trigger Hippie

Senior Member.
It sort of looks like a missile/rocket trail. Were there any rocket launches at the time the photos were taken?

missile1.jpg
http://earthsky.org/todays-image/russian-missile-contrail
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
I don't think it really looks at all like a rocket trail. It's far too thin, dense, and clean. By the time a rocket trail has got that squiggly, it's broad and fluffy.

And nobody fires rockets over London.
 

WeedWhacker

Senior Member
I don't think it really looks at all like a rocket trail. It's far too thin, dense, and clean. By the time a rocket trail has got that squiggly, it's broad and fluffy.

And nobody fires rockets over London.

Every experience can be different. Not arguing, just suggesting.

OH, this was over Great Britain? I need to read the thread more fully.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Every experience can be different. Not arguing, just suggesting.

OH, this was over Great Britain? I need to read the thread more fully.

There were multiple examples, two were over London, others over The Netherlands, Belgium, the US (Kansas City), and Poland.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Update From Wim:

 

Jazzy

Closed Account
That's the way it seems to me. The lower stratosphere is mostly laminar in behavior. Rolling sheets of air (vortices) may be gently squeezed almost flat, until, at least, they exhibit Crow Instability, and form loops at right angles to themselves. It's all very stable behavior. A rotational moment of inertia is another form of stabilization. How counter-rotating vortices become this is still a mystery.

Vortices stick to flat surfaces due to the low pressure on their rotational axis: then maybe the vortices consider the topside of the inversion to be a "surface", and "print" themselves as a sinusoid upon that "surface", to Crow's rules. Maybe…

What a fabulous run of images, Mick. :)
 
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WeedWhacker

Senior Member
Crow's rules...

Can't help myself, I immediately flashed in my mind, the HBO program "Game of Thrones" (Subtle reference).

But yes, in terms of the 3-D aspect of the atmosphere and the extremely complex interactions that occur, this is a concept that seems foreign to many peoples' understanding. Since they (those people) are most familiar usually with surface travel, which is a sort of "2-D", in a way.

Enjoy this short clip!:
 

Sn0w

New Member
Here are some pictures taken in Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria (Eastern Europe).
The pictures are shot at 2010 March 18, around 16:30(GMT+02:00).
The pictures are taken in sequence, they should be covering about about 1 minute interval from 16:27 to 16:28.

The pictures are not mine, the person who shot them doesn't want to reveal his exact location. I asked him and he gave his permission to "show them to whoever 'experts' you want and play with them as much as you want". (I'll try to ask him for a proper release to public domain, if they are important.)

So, here are the pictures he published himself. Please note that they might be with degraded quality by the site he used.

pic_006


pic_007


pic_008


pic_009


pic_010


pic_011


pic_012


I asked the photographer to provide the originals and he gave me this URL onedrive.live.com/file.rar .
These should contain more metadata and exact timing.

Now, he claims that he didn't saw any flying object. That the trail have been condensed and didn't move, until it started to fall apart, as is evident from the last photos.


I'm not very skilled with photo manipulation, but I have managed to cut segments containing the trail, make them into layers, set the background to semi-transparent and overlay them so the trail fits. Even from the last 3 pictures it is evident that the trail parts were moving in different directions and with different speeds. I managed to resize and fit segments from the first panoramic pictures and they followed the same pattern.

Using my eyes only and making few assumptions, I would say that the time this trail have been straight line is about 3-4 times the time between first and last picture, so 3-5 minutes.

I hope you might find more useful information in the photo, despite the lack of landmarks. There is only visible part of a poplar tree, 5-10 meters high.
I also haven't examined the originals yet. I might edit this post if there is relevant information.
 

Trailspotter

Senior Member.
I've stumbled upon a couple of recent photographs that may help to explain the origin of these squiggly thin trails.

Here is a close-up of rather unusual contrail taken in Washington state on August 9, 2014

Source

and a crop from a wide angle shot of it taken a few seconds earlier:


Source

In the beginning it is a typical double-stranded hybrid contrail, but at the end it breaks down in an asymmetric way with one of the strands waning. Normally, the two strands destroy each other because of Crow instability, so what makes this contrail different? I hypothesise that the two counter rotating wingtip vortices, forming the hybrid contrail strands, interact not only between themselves, but also with an invisible rotor of air, as in #4. The air turbulence would amplify the vortex with the same direction of rotation and curtail the vortex of opposite rotation. I guess that, in the case of a sufficiently strong air turbulence, the second hybrid contrail strand may not form at all.
 
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Trailspotter

Senior Member.
I've stumbled upon a couple of recent photographs that may help to explain the origin of these squiggly thin trails.

Here is a close-up of rather unusual contrail taken in Washington state on August 9, 2014
View attachment 8594

and a crop from a wide angle shot of it taken a few seconds earlier:
View attachment 8593

In the beginning it is a typical double-stranded hybrid contrail, but at the end it breaks down in an asymmetric way with one of the strands waning. Normally, the two strands destroy each other because of Crow instability, so what makes this contrail different? I hypothesise that the two counter rotating wingtip vortices, forming the hybrid contrail strands, interact not only between themselves, but also with an invisible rotor of air, as in #4. The air turbulence would amplify the vortex with the same direction of rotation and curtail the vortex of opposite rotation. I guess that, in the case of a sufficiently strong air turbulence, the second hybrid contrail strand may not form at all.

I have been looking for some computational results that can support my hypothesis above and found the following link:

http://archive.nrc-cnrc.gc.ca/eng/news/iar/2002/01/30/crash-theory.html

Screen shot 2014-08-25 at 20.12.00.png

If this theory, predicting the aircraft vortices decouple at certain conditions with one of them getting stronger, is correct, then it seems possible that this vortex can produce a single hybrid contrail strand, which, in absence of the Crow instability effect, would persist for longer time.
 
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Trailspotter

Senior Member.

Actually, all this pictures are from the Netherlands and all but one are of the same contrail. The last image actually is taken in South Rotterdam, but Google (Chrome) has translated non-capitalised 'rotterdam zuid' as 'london' :p
Another example of the Lorem Ipsum effect: https://www.metabunk.org/threads/lorem-ipsum-of-good-evil-google-china.4248/
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
An update from Wim via email:

Liège-050315-2-IMG_4297.JPG
Liège-050315-1-IMG_4296.JPG
Photos obtained via Wim van Utrecht of CAELESTIA, who himself received them from Patrick FERRYN of COBEPS (Belgian Committee for the Study of Aerospace Phenomena


Here's a closeup:


Quite a strikingly bright and clean squiggly line. With the contrast enhanced you can see it's very different to the lower clouds - and to what looks like an aged contrail.
 

Trailspotter

Senior Member.
Photos obtained via Wim van Utrecht of CAELESTIA, who himself received them from Patrick FERRYN of COBEPS (Belgian Committee for the Study of Aerospace Phenomena
In my list, there is one case from 2000, one from 2001 and one from 2002 (Appendix 1):
https://www.metabunk.org/threads/si...y-hybrid-contrails-the-rook-instability.4539/

I think the lack of earlier reports is probably due to digital photography being in its infant stage at the time.

Unfortunately, I do not have Premium FR24 to play back March 5th and to see what plane could have left this trail.
 

trigger

New Member
Sorry my text seems to have disappeared.

The photo was taken on Sunday 12th at approx 10:20 BST and facing South. The photo was taken from 51.5782°N, 1.1343°W I stopped the FR24 plot over the location.

How do I post the EXIF data? The time/date on the picture will be incorrect as I saw the trail, rushed inside to get the camera and then put the batteries in. I didn't set the time/date.

OK, I found an on-line EXIF viewer.
Make
FUJIFILM
Model
FinePix S9600
Aperture
6.4
Exposure Time
1/400 (0.0025 sec)
Focal Length
21.6 mm
Flash
Off, Did not fire
File Size
7.3 kB
File Type
JPEG
MIME Type
image/jpeg
Image Width
448
Image Height
336
Encoding Process
Baseline DCT, Huffman coding
Bits Per Sample
8
Color Components
3
X Resolution
72
Y Resolution
72
Software
Digital Camera FinePix S9600 Ver1.00
YCbCr Sub Sampling
YCbCr4:2:0 (2 2)
YCbCr Positioning
Co-sited
Exposure Program
Program AE
Date and Time (Original)
2006:01:01 00:00:23
Max Aperture Value
2.8
Metering Mode
Multi-segment
Light Source
Unknown
Color Space
sRGB
Sensing Method
One-chip color area
Custom Rendered
Normal
Exposure Mode
Auto
White Balance
Auto
Scene Capture Type
Standard
Contrast
Normal
Saturation
Normal
Sharpness
Normal
Subject Distance Range
Unknown
Quality
NORMAL
Sequence Number
N/A
F Number
6.4
Exposure Compensation
N/A
Focus Mode
Auto
ISO
80
Color Mode
Standard
 
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John Murrell

New Member
I have an image of one of these from 2006 which I observed about an hour after the Transit of Mercury - images here http://www.johnmurrell.org.uk/Transit of Mercury Turbulence V2/index.html near the bottom of the page. The other images show a 'clear air' version of something similar crossing the Sun about an hour earlier. You can see the refraction of the sunlight and the distortion caused by the 'turbulance'. There is an animated gif linked to this page or else just step through the individual images.

John Murrell
 
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