The concentrated condensation trail of jet exhaust is visible against an Alberta blue sky. Its consistency waivers slightly in the upper air currents; soon it spreads and eventually dissipates, consumed by the surrounding atmospheric abyss. Two white tails streaked across my view of the sky from my window today within seconds of one another on a north-south journey to who knows where… They appeared to be too high to consider the landing at Edmonton International Airport so I am going to assume their destination is somewhere farther, perhaps, in warmer climes beyond our borders.
When I see those white plumes marring our beautiful blue skies, I think of my mother. I will never see another without remembering her comments as to their purpose and possibly conspiracy. As an avid reader and always learning, she would go beyond just the simple explanation of vapor condensation from warm water into cool air, like our breath on a cold winter morning. I am not sure she knew of the now debunked conspiracy theory that linked these contrails to chemical distribution, but it’s possible. It was more of “why do they have to do that…” A beautiful clear sky in Alberta is not a rarity but all too soon clouds move in on the wind, changing the brilliant blue landscape to a myriad of mottled patterns.
Ask “why” and you can always research the scientific reasoning. An article in the Scientific American discusses this very question:
Of particular interest to me, the following: “The nature and persistence of jet contrails can be used to predict the weather. A thin, short-lived contrail indicates low-humidity air at high altitude, a sign of fair weather, whereas a thick, long-lasting contrail reflects humid air at high altitudes and can be an early indicator of a storm.”
This ability was always my understanding for the possible use of the contrails – weather predictors. They indicated by their reaction the direction and intensity of the air currents. I have yet to satisfy my curiosity through research as to why some jets do this and others don’t, even while appearing to travel at the same altitude. Why do they happen in the summer when the air is supposedly warmer, although I know it cools quickly the higher you go…
To my mom, it was simply a conspiracy to eradicate a beautiful blue sky and when I see one of those obvious white contrails, I smile – looking up makes me feel like she is watching me and knowing I see what she sees. This is a connection I shared with her while sitting on the deck at her house in the country enjoying a cold one – it will forever be a happy memory.