Articles | Volume 15, issue 15
Research article
10 Aug 2015
Research article |  | 10 Aug 2015

Contrail life cycle and properties from 1 year of MSG/SEVIRI rapid-scan images

M. Vázquez-Navarro, H. Mannstein, and S. Kox

Abstract. The automatic contrail tracking algorithm (ACTA) – developed to automatically follow contrails as they age, drift and spread – enables the study of a large number of contrails and the evolution of contrail properties with time. In this paper we present a year's worth of tracked contrails, from August 2008 to July 2009 in order to derive statistically significant mean values. The tracking is performed using the 5 min rapid-scan mode of the Spinning Enhanced Visible and Infrared Imager (SEVIRI) on board the Meteosat Second Generation (MSG) satellites. The detection is based on the high spatial resolution of the images provided by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer on board the Terra satellite (Terra/MODIS), where a contrail detection algorithm (CDA) is applied. The results show the satellite-derived average lifetimes of contrails and contrail-cirrus along with the probability density function (PDF) of other geometric characteristics such as mean coverage, distribution and width. In combination with specifically developed algorithms (RRUMS; Rapid Retrieval of Upwelling irradiance from MSG/SEVIRI and COCS (Cirrus Optical properties derived from CALIOP and SEVIRI), explained below) it is possible to derive the radiative forcing (RF), energy forcing (EF), optical thickness (τ) and altitude of the tracked contrails. Mean values here retrieved are duration, 1 h; length, 130 km; width, 8 km; altitude, 11.7 km; optical thickness, 0.34. Radiative forcing and energy forcing are shown for land/water backgrounds in day/night situations.

Final-revised paper