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    Influence of aviation fuel composition on the formation and lifetime of contrails — a literature review

    Gierens, K, Sausen, R, Bauder, U, Eckel, G, Großmann, K, Le Clercq, P, Lee, DS ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5984-8861, Rauch, B, Sauer, D, Voigt, C and Schmidt, A (2024) Influence of aviation fuel composition on the formation and lifetime of contrails — a literature review. Research Report. Concawe, Brussels. ISBN 9782875671813 ISSN 0166-0810

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    Abstract

    The question of how aviation fuel composition affects the formation and lifetime of contrails is a complex one. Although the theory regarding initial contrail formation is well-founded in thermodynamics and proven to be correct by measurements, there remain large uncertainties in terms of persistent contrails forming contrail cirrus. These originate both from processes which are not yet fully understood and from the complexity of quantifying the many factors of influence on their effect on climate. There is an extended cause-effect chain from fuel composition through its combustion and consequential emissions, to contrail formation and their spreading in the atmosphere, and microphysical and optical properties. These properties affect the lifetime and radiative effect of single contrails to the global and multi-annual average of the radiative effects of all contrails, and thus eventually to their climate impact. This problem extends over 17 orders of magnitude in space and time, from the scales of single molecules (about 0.1 nm) and their elementary interactions (say, 1 ns) to the global scales of climate (say, 10,000 km and 10-30 years). It is not possible to cover such a vast range with a single numerical model or with relatively few measurements.

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