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Climate Roundup

August 12, 2011

Climate scientists who want to know how airplanes might affect the climate are gaining new insights by looking nearly seventy years into the past.



Do airplanes affect the climate? I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

On the morning of May 11th, 1944, over 1400 US planes participated in a massive bombing campaign over Germany. Now, scientists reporting in the International Journal of Climatology have found that the contrails, or streaky clouds, produced by those planes suppressed surface temperatures significantly that day. With air travel so common today, scientists would like to know how contrails affect climate. The study provides new evidence that planes can indeed have a significant affect.

In other news, a report in the Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy suggests that wind farms could be more efficient if they replaced conventional wind turbines with lots of vertical axis turbines that resemble corkscrews. Even though each one is less efficient than a standard turbine, the study found they can be packed so tightly, they could produce more watts per acre. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the science society.