New Maps Show Airplane Contrails Over the US Dropped Steeply in 2020

An MIT team has generated new maps of jet contrails over the United States before and during the Covid-19 pandemic, which show a steep reduction in the area covered by contrails in 2020.

The computer-vision technique behind these maps could help avoid contrail production, reducing aviation’s climate impact.

As Covid-19’s initial wave crested around the world, travel restrictions and a drop in passengers led to a record number of grounded flights in 2020. The air travel reduction cleared the skies of not just jets but also the fluffy white contrails they produce high in the atmosphere.

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