Shocking evidence that air travel is changing the planet
A web of air traffic fills the sky
This enhanced infrared photo from NASA illustrates how artificial clouds made by humans may become so common they change the Earth's climate. The state borders are in yellow while the long thin cloud streaks that dominate this satellite photo showing the sky above the Pacific Northwest are contrails which are cirrus clouds created by airplanes. The exhaust from an airplane engine can create a contrail by saturating the surrounding air with extra moisture. The wings of a plane can similarly create contrails by dropping the temperature and causing small ice-crystals to form.
Contrails have become more than an oddity - they may be significantly increasing the cloudiness of Earth, reflecting sunlight back into space by day, and heat radiation back to Earth even at night. The effect on climate by air traffic is a topic of much research by both scientists and environmentalists. Since 2004 conflicting theories began to emerge regarding the possible impacts of air travel on our climate.