2:28pm

Thu June 30, 2011
Science

Researchers say Airplanes Affect Weather

Noise pollution may not be the only the concern for those living near airports. Scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder believe airplanes may be affecting the local weather.

A new NCAR study looked at cloud patterns over six of the busiest airports across in the world including Chicago’s O’Hare and Charles De Gaulle in Paris. What they found is commercial and private planes are inadvertently seeding the clouds around the airports, causing small but measureable increases in the precipitation. 

“Cloud seeding like seen in the Colorado Rockies has to do with putting ice in cloud layers that otherwise don’t have much ice and to generate ice crystal that then grow into snow and fall out to the ground,” says senior NCAR scientist Andrew Heymsfield.

Heymsfield says the cooling necessary to develop these crystals is caused by all types of aircraft. This phenomenon was also observed around Denver International Airport. In fact, it was a band of snow that ran along a common flight-path from DIA to Fort Collins that brought this issue to the researchers’ attention.