Skip to content
Journal article

Thin and subvisible cirrus and contrails in a subsaturated environment

Kübbeler M, Hildebrandt M, Meyer J, Schiller C, Hamburger T, Jurkat T, Minikin A, Petzold A, Rautenhaus M, Schlager H, Schumann U, Voigt C, Spichtinger P, Gayet J, Gourbeyre C, Krämer M ...see all

Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, vol. 11, issue 12 (2011) pp. 5853-5865

  • 27

    Readers

    Mendeley users who have this article in their library.
  • 15

    Citations

    Citations of this article.
  • N/A

    Views

    ScienceDirect users who have downloaded this article.
Sign in to save reference

Abstract

The frequency of occurrence of cirrus clouds and contrails, their life time, ice crystal size spectra and thus their radiative properties depend strongly on the ambient distribution of the relative humidity with respect to ice (RH(ice)). Ice clouds do not form below a certain supersaturation and both cirrus and contrails need at least saturation conditions to persist over a longer period. Under subsaturated conditions, cirrus and contrails should dissipate. During the mid-latitude aircraft experiment CONCERT 2008 (CONtrail and Cirrus ExpeRimenT), RH(ice) and ice crystals were measured in cirrus and contrails. Here, we present results from 2.3/1.7 h of observation in cirrus/contrails during 6 flights. Thin and subvisible cirrus with contrails embedded therein have been detected frequently in a subsaturated environment. Nevertheless, ice crystals up to radii of 50 mu m and larger, but with low number densities were often observed inside the contrails as well as in the cirrus. Analysis of the meteorological situation indicates that the crystals in the contrails were entrained from the thin/subvisible cirrus clouds, which emerged in frontal systems with low updrafts. From model simulations of cirrus evaporation times it follows that such thin/subvisible cirrus can exist for time periods of a couple of hours and longer in a subsaturated environment and thus may represent a considerable part of the cirrus coverage.

Get free article suggestions today

Mendeley saves you time finding and organizing research

Sign up here
Already have an account ?Sign in

Find this document

Get full text

Authors

  • M. Kübbeler

  • M. Hildebrandt

  • J. Meyer

  • C. Schiller

  • Th Hamburger

  • T. Jurkat

Cite this document

Choose a citation style from the tabs below