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Evaluation of the use of radiosonde humidity data to predict the occurrence of persistent contrails

By G. Radel and K. P. Shine


Regular visual observations of persistent contrails over Reading, UK, have been used to evaluate radiosonde measurements of temperature and humidity defining cold ice-supersaturated atmospheric regions which are assumed to be a necessary condition for persistent condensation trails (contrails) to form. Results show a good correlation between observations and predictions using data from Larkhill, 63 km from Reading. A statistical analysis of this result and the forecasts using data from four additional UK radiosonde stations are presented. The horizontal extent of supersaturated layers could be inferred from this to be several hundred kilometres. The necessity of bias corrections to radiosonde humidity measurements is discussed and an analysis of measured ice-supersaturated atmospheric layers in the troposphere is presented. It is found that ice supersaturation is more likely to occur in winter than in summer, with frequencies of 17.3% and 9.4%, respectively, which is mostly due to the layers being thicker in winter than in summer. The most probable height for them to occur is about 10 km

Publisher: Royal Meteorological Society
Year: 2007
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