Strange Sky Highlights?

December 14th, 2012 at 11:17 am by under Weather

Picture of beautiful contrails across Fort Wayne December 14th (photo sent in by Jennifer Umana

We had several ‘Report It” pictures from people this morning showing colorful streaks which seemed like lights coloring the early morning skies.  These pictures are beautiful and can easily be explained. They are ‘contrails”. Contrails is an abbreviated easy to remember name for condensation trails. The U.S. Air Force has done extensive studies on this phenomena which is caused when there are clear skies and higher pressure. The exhaust from air craft is frozen into small ice crystals. (The same as cloud matter). These ice crystals do not really contain much moisture so that’s the reason for their wispy appearance.

So every time I see CONtrails I know that I will get email from someone who thinks that these contrails are CHEMtrails. The chemtrail theory was hatched by conspiracy groups who believe that the government releases harmful biological agents through contrails. The only problem with these theories is that to become a cloud substance the chemical composition has to be mostly water. If you go back to your elementary school science class you may remember learning that water is the only substance that can change to three different states, solid, gas and liquid. So keeping with scientific theory then these contrail clouds would have to be mostly water. In fact, the substance released from jet exhaust would have to be about 99% water to change state. So really there are only trace elements of other chemicals. At sea level with a temperature of  15 degrees Celsius here are the trace elements in the air

Nitrogen — N2 — 78.084%

Oxygen — O2 — 20.9476%

Argon — Ar — 0.934%

Carbon Dioxide — CO2 — 0.0314%

Neon– Ne — 0.001818%

These elements make up about 2% of the surface air we breathe in, while in the upper atmosphere these percentages are even less.

2 Responses to “Strange Sky Highlights?”

  1. Kimberly says:

    Beautiful pictures. I noticed the contrails this morning on my way in to work.

    I would just like to point on that water is not the only substance that can change to three different states, in fact all of them can. It is however the only substance that commonly appears on earth in a solid, liquid and gas state.

    1. Greg Shoup says:

      Thanks Kimberly,
      I think we may be getting a little caught up in words. According to my chemistry book water is the only substance on earth that can be found naturally in all three states solid liquid and gas. The point I was trying to make is that water is the only substance that can change states to solid, liquid and gas on EARTH. So if we are talking about atmospheric science and dealing with our earth I think that my definition suits this piece and is stated correctly.