Contrails are formed when airplanes fly through layers of humidity and can persist as cirrus clouds for varying amounts of time. While these clouds reflect sunlight during the day, they also trap a significant amount of heat, resulting in a net warming effect. Avoiding flight routes that create contrails can minimize this warming impact. American pilots conducted 70 test flights over six months, using Google’s AI-based predictions and Breakthrough Energy’s open-source contrail models to avoid altitudes that are likely to produce contrails. Satellite imagery analysis revealed a 54% reduction in contrails, providing evidence that commercial flights can actively minimize contrails and thereby reduce their climate impact.

source update: Google AI is helping airlines mitigate the climate impact of contrails


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