Contrail Formation in Southeastern Michigan with Potential Regional and Global Impacts

Organization(s):Crestwood High School
Student(s):Noor Abu-Rus Zaharaa Altwaij
Grade Level:Secondary School (grades 9-12, ages 14-18)
GLOBE Teacher(s):Diana Rae Johns
Report Type(s):U.S. Student Research Symposia (SRS)
Presentation Poster: View Document
Date Submitted:04/10/2020
Contrails MI

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This research attempted to determine the extent to which contrails formed by planes flying at high altitudes are affected by the presence or absence of large bodies of water such as the Great Lakes. Contrails are anthropogenic clouds that appear as streaks in the sky following the condensation of aircraft engine exhaust on aerosols at the cloud, higher altitudes found in the atmosphere where many aircrafts fly. Near daily cloud observations from August 2019 through February 2019 were made using GLOBE Cloud protocols and then the data was uploaded to GLOBE via the NASA-GLOBE Cloud Observer App and/or through direct data entry. This data was then compared with NASA satellite images using the information emailed to the researchers from Crestwood High School contrail data was then analyzed with data that other schools uploaded using the GLOBE Visualization System. The analyzed data showed that contrail formation was strongly correlated with cold upper altitude temperatures (as shown in satellite images).


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Hi Noor and Zaharaa, my name is Katie Bennett and I am a Master's student at the University of New Hampshire studying Earth Science and Atmospheric Chemistry. I research how Arctic wetlands in northern Sweden are responding to climate change by measuring the amount of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, they release.
I really like your project studying contrail formation and am impressed by the way you used satellite data and collaborated with students in Thailand to compare the data you collected to other areas. Your poster is very well organized and communicates your findings in a very detailed way. I also really liked the images that you used to support your methods and results. My favorite part is your research implications section where you do a great job explaining that it is important to study contrails because they can indicate human development and how more data reporting would have improved your study. Identifying how you can improve your research is such an important part of science and unfortunately we don't always have access to all the data we would like. In the future, using bullet points in your introduction and conclusion sections can help reduce the amount of text on your poster and make it easier for an in-person audience to read quickly. I liked how you listed both your research questions and null hypotheses, this made your conclusions very clear and easy to understand. You did a very thorough job researching contrails and communicated your results clearly your poster, great work!

Posted on 7/1/20 6:48 PM.

Hi Noor and Zaharaa,
My name is Eliza Balch and I am a master's student and the University of New Hampshire. I studying water chemistry and water resources. My research focuses on nitrogen pollution in freshwater and where, when, and how the nitrogen is processed.
I am very impressed with your project, especially how you directed your research from questions to conclusion. There is a clear and easy-to-follow story which addresses your questions and hypotheses throughout the poster. Figures and pictures support your research story. I found it interesting how you used satellite data together with the GLOBE cloud visualizer, and that the satellite data was ineffective for identifying contrails. I also found your results on atmospheric temperature and moisture very interesting. It was great that you were able to synthesize data from three different locations. In future research posters, breaking up the text using bullet points or visuals can help make the poster easier to follow. Overall, great job communicating your research in a detailed and understandable way!

Posted on 7/1/20 6:49 PM.

Hi, Noor and Zaharaa. I'm Lynne Hehr (, a GLOBE Trainer and Partner with research degrees in Geology. I have been with the GLOBE program for 25 years as a Scientist trainer and have been involved with GLOBE Student Research Symposiums since they began several years ago. You two have done quite a lot of work as far as data collection and data analysis. Your research, conducted over this long period of time, definitely shows your dedication to the study. You have also chosen an area of research that has research potential and lends itself to the type of GLOBE protocols you chose. Using NASA satellite comparisons, as well as the idea of site comparisons, are very good research points – and your conclusions are well thought out/supported by your research. Contrail and heat island comparisons are also a correlation that you might consider in future research. The badges you chose fit your study well. One point to consider when making your poster, it is not necessary to include the entire narrative of your research – bulleting the high points will make it easier to read. Excellent job. Keep up the good work!

Posted on 7/1/20 6:49 PM.

Dear Noor and Zaharaa, My name is Dr. John Hehr and I am a retired professor of Geosciences at the University of Arkansas. My research interests center on atmospheric sciences, specifically, tree-ring analysis to build climate back through time. Your project is of great importance as increased numbers of contrails are having impacts at all scales. The fact that you are considering satellite data for correlation is extremely interesting. Using temperature data, could you forecast where and at what levels contrails might form? If accurate, forecasting locations of contrail formation would be extremely valuable to both civilian and military operations. The fact that your data suggest a strong correlation between contrail formation and upper level temperatures would encourage further research on your part. I hope you continue your quest for new approaches to the research you have already completed. Great job!

Posted on 7/1/20 6:49 PM.