Global Nominee

Contrails received a Global Nomination.

THE CHALLENGE: Clouds or Contrails

On clear or partly sunny days, people might look up at the sky and see straight lines of what appear to be clouds or white smoke. These lines are not smoke or natural clouds; they are contrails produced by aircraft. Contrails form because water vapor from jet engine exhaust passes through a cold and humid part of the air at high altitudes. Sometimes the jet that created the contrails is not visible overhead because winds aloft have blown the vapor trail into the observed area after the jet has passed. Naturally occurring high thin cirrus clouds do not form straight lines, they are more diffuse and irregular in shape than a contrail. Can an app be developed to help a ground observer determine the probability that an aircraft made the thin lines of white 'clouds' overhead?


Our team has been working on Cloud or Contrail solution. The goal is to distinguish whether you see a cloud or a contrail left by aircraft.

Clouds are the largest variable controlling Earth's atmospheric temperature and climate. Contrails caused by aircrafts are likely to be affecting climate and ultimately our natural resources.

Our team has come up with augmented reality smartphone application. All what you have to do is just point your smartphone at a cloud you interested in and you’ll instantly see all aircraft routes in this area. The app can estimate approximate coordinates and distance to the cloud. Based on this information you can evaluate whether it’s a natural cloud or contrail.

Our solution could help atmospheric scientists to gain and collect information about clouds around the world. The result could help air traffic managers in planning different flight-paths or altitudes to avoid contrail formation.

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