Contrails

Contrails never fail to arrest me in my track.

I am ensorcelled by these cirrus clouds, painted by jets.

Sometimes they dissipate in minutes, the trail expanding into modern art, like a drop of ink in water.

Other times they stay for hours, the evening sun changing their colours to salmon yellow.

But scientific studies call it as the aviation industry’s dirty secret.

These high-flying clouds are too thin to reflect much sunlight, but ice crystals inside them can trap heat. Unlike low-level clouds that have a net cooling effect, these contrail-formed clouds warm the climate.

A 2011 study suggests that the net effect of these contrail clouds contributes more to atmospheric warming than all the carbon dioxide produced by planed since the dawn of aviation.