Cloud condensation nuclei and ship tracks

James G. Hudson, Timothy J. Garrett, Peter V. Hobbs, Scott R. Strader, Yonghong Xie, Seong Soo Yum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Enhancements of droplet concentrations in clouds affected by four ships were fairly accurately predicted from ship emission factors and plume and background cloud condensation nucleus (CCN) spectra. Ship exhausts thus accounted for the increased droplet concentrations in these "ship tracks." Derived supersaturations were typical of marine stratus clouds, although there was evidence of some lowering of supersaturations in some ship tracks closer to the ships where CCN and droplet concentrations were very high. Systematic differences were measured in the emission rates of CCN for different engines and fuels. Diesel engines burning low-grade marine fuel oil produced order of magnitude higher CCN emissions than turbine engines burning higher-grade fuel. Consequently, diesel ships burning low-grade fuel were responsible for nearly all of the observed ship track clouds. There is some evidence that fuel type is a better predictor of ship track potential than engine type.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2696-2706
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the Atmospheric Sciences
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - 2000 Aug 15

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


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