17 January 2012
Our Impact on The Planet
Posted by Dan Satterfield
Dr. Jim White at INSTAAR at the Univ. of Colorado showed this video at the Glen Gerberg Weather and Climate Summit last week. The background is the DMSP city lights image and the video runs 24 hours showing air traffic across the globe. If someone tells you that we humans are too insignificant to affect the planet, then show them this video.
Claiming that we humans cannot impact this planet is nothing short of pure silliness. The science says otherwise, and it is indisputable.
While I agree that human do affect the climate….lets keep this video in perspective….the dots representing an airplane have been scaled up about 100 times or more to create an illusion in this video. If everything was to scale you would not see any airplanes in this video….just the earth
True, the purpose is to illustrate how much of the planet is affected by humans. The city lights, however, are not scaled and are likely a good proxy for traffic from internal combustion engines.
The continual air traffic flow is also illustrative of the “collective vapor trails” that surely must create effects on the upper atmosphere. Is there a scientific name for any such condition, and what could the many divergent effects be?
Also welcome to Salisbury, Maryland…my hometown.
Hi John, Thanks first of all and second, there was a study after the air traffic shutdown in Sept 2001. It showed cooler nights and slightly warmer days with the absence of the contrails. The latest I have read is that there is definitely a weather effect from the linear cirrus and in some cases it may be as much as a few degrees. High ice crystal clouds generally cause warming by letting sunlight through while more effectively blocking outgoing long-wave (IR) radiation. A tremendous amount of research is underway in the climate community to better pin down the physics.