Debunking Contrail Theory - Part 1
Mainstream outlets argue that the large and persistent white plumes left behind by planes flying at high altitudes are ice crystals formed through rapid condensation.
In my previous article, I addressed a new bill in the State of New Hampshire that aims to stop the use of weather modification methods, such as stratospheric aerosol injection (SAI) and other experimental techniques. Today, we will take a closer look at Contrail Theory—the mainstream explanation for the large and persistent plumes left behind by high-altitude airplanes.
What is Contrail Theory?
At altitudes of up to 42,000 ft, the air can be as cold as -60°C. When the hot air from jet engine exhaust (roughly 600°C) comes into contact with the cold air, it is said that the water vapor in the air rapidly condenses and then quickly freezes to form ice crystals, producing a white plume behind the plane. The theory argues that the size of the condensation trail and the time it takes to vanish are determined by the humidity of the air. Higher humidity levels result in large, opaque, and persistent trails behind planes, while lower humidity produces less prominent ones. Thus, zero humidity would result in no condensation trail whatsoever.
As an advocate for the scientific method, I will now attempt to challenge or disprove this theory.
The Humidity Variable
The size of a condensation trail is determined by the humidity of the hot air expelled from the jet engine. On days with high humidity, condensation trails tend to be larger. Only on days with zero humidity will no trail be visible behind the plane. Humidity can vary significantly over vast distances at any given time, and since aircraft travel at speeds of roughly 500 mph, slight variations in observable metrics over these long distances are possible. However, the presence and sudden absence of contrails left by a plane over a short distance would challenge the idea that humidity is the primary determinant of contrail size and persistence.
Following this theory's logic, if we observe an aircraft leave a trail but abruptly stop producing it, it would bring into question the notion that humidity is the key variable. Such evidence would weaken the overall thesis of Contrail Theory, necessitating alternative explanations.
More footage requiring explanation
Why are some trails much bigger than others on the same day and similar location?
As I delve deeper into this subject, I am reminded of the importance of prioritizing detail over speculation. This is a highly intricate topic that will require multiple parts. If you find this resource helpful, please consider subscribing so that I can keep you informed about new developments in my research.
Before we move on, let's start with this refreshing and concise 2-minute video that explains condensation in adequate detail. Afterward, we can proceed with greater knowledge and an understanding of the physics at play.
Requirements for condensation:
Rapid drop in temperature
Condensation nuclei (aka “cloud seeds”)
Important details about the atmosphere and planes
The tropopause is the atmospheric boundary between the troposphere and the stratosphere, and its altitude varies, with an average height of 43,000 ft. Ninety-nine percent of Earth's water vapor is contained within the troposphere. At middle latitudes, tropospheric temperatures can be as low as −55°C at the tropopause. Temperatures decrease from the Earth's surface to the tropopause and then begin to rise higher up into the stratosphere.
Aircraft equipped with high-bypass turbofan jet engines, such as the Boeing 737, typically cruise at altitudes up to 41,000 ft, which is below the average height of the stratosphere. While higher flights are possible with military aircraft, the planes leaving mysterious plumes appear to be below stratospheric levels. This is not as straightforward to debunk as if these planes were flying above the tropopause (where no water vapor is present). However, as discussed in the previous section, cold air carries less water vapor due to a decrease in atomic energy. Therefore, the humidity at these heights is significantly lower than the humidity that cultivates fog and condensation of breath at ground level.
Key questions to be answered in part 2:
Is there a sufficient concentration of water vapor at these altitudes to support Contrail Theory?
Is there enough atmospheric particulates to act as cloud condensation nuclei above 30,000 ft?
More research is warranted, and I have a feeling that I will soon be delving into the formation of high clouds, such as cirrus and cirrocumulus clouds, as these are the closest comparable cases of natural condensation at similar altitudes to so-called contrails.
If you have any information that may help me in my research, please share your findings in the comment section so that myself and others may benefit from your insights. Thank you for your time and attention.