Aviation effects on already-existing cirrus clouds
Determining the effects of the formation of contrails within natural cirrus clouds has proven to be challenging. Quantifying any such effects is necessary if we are to properly account for the influence of aviation on climate. Here we quantify the effect of aircraft on the optical thickness of already-existing cirrus clouds by matching actual aircraft flight tracks to satellite lidar measurements. We show that there is a systematic, statistically significant increase in normalized cirrus cloud optical thickness inside mid-latitude flight tracks compared with adjacent areas immediately outside the tracks.