Airplanes Creating Snow

Scientists now think that that airplanes may be responsible for increasing local snowfall by flash-freezing supercooled water vapor in clouds. Water droplets can persist in the atmosphere to temperatures of -42 degrees Celsius. But when an airplane’s wing passes through moist air, the acceleration of the air passing over the wing causes a pressure decrease that can drop the temperature by as much as 19 C, causing the water droplets to form ice crystals immediately. (The particulate matter in the aircraft exhaust probably also aids this process.) The same behavior can also create holes in clouds and cause ice to form on the wings. # (Related behavior: vapor cones)

Photo credit: lhoon

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