Contrails over Baltic Sea
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Contrails over Baltic Sea

May 26, 2005
Razor-thin streaky clouds across the Baltic Sea are evidence of the passage of planes through the atmosphere. These clouds, called "contrails," are essentially man-made clouds that form in the wake of jet liners where the air is cold (about 40 degrees Celcius) and moist. Newer contrails are thin, and as they age they widen as a result of wind movement. Because of this tendency for thin contrails to spread and cover large areas with time, it is estimated that these "artificial clouds" cover 0.1 percent of the planet's surface. Percentages are far higher in places like southern California, the Ohio River Valley, and parts of Europe. More information about contrails can be found here, on the Earth Observatory. This true-color Terra MODIS image was acquired on May 15, 2005.

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