Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, vol. 10, issue 7 (2010) pp. 3261-3272
Condensation trails (contrails) formed from water vapor emissions behind aircraft engines are the most uncertain components of the aviation impacts on climate change. To gain improved knowledge of contrail and contrail-induced cirrus cloud formation, understanding of contrail ice particle formation immediately after aircraft engines is needed. Despite many efforts spent in modeling the microphysics of ice crystal formation in jet regime (with a plume age 1 x 10(15) (kg-fuel)(-1)) at cruise. The effects of dilution history, ion-mediated nucleation, ambient relative humidity, fuel sulfur contents, and initial soot emissions were investigated. Our simulation results suggest that ice particles are mainly formed by water condensation on emitted soot particles. The growth of ice coated soot particles is driven by water vapor emissions in the first 1000m and by ambient relative humidity afterwards. The presence of chemi-ions does not significantly contribute to the formation of ice particles in the soot-rich regime, and the effect of fuel sulfur contents is small over the range typical of standard jet fuels. The initial properties of soot emissions play the most critical role, and our calculations suggest that higher number concentration and smaller size of contrail particle nuclei may be able to effectively suppress the formation of contrail ice particles. Further modeling and experimental studies are needed to verify if our findings can provide a possible approach for contrail mitigation.
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