How Allied bombing raids in World War Two caused havoc… on the climate: Contrails kept morning temperatures down

The devastating impact of Allied bombers on the enemy played a pivotal role in winning the Second World War – but today they could tell us more about the impact that flying has on our climate, scientists claimed.

Researchers have examined meteorological data from wartime bombing raids to see exactly what effect thousands of aircraft have on the skies.

Analysis of Met Office and military records revealed significant change to the sky on May 11, 1944, when 1,444 aircraft took off from airfields across south-east England.

Contrails from the bombers significantly suppressed the rising morning temperature in the area.

Professor Rob MacKenzie, from the University of Birmingham, who led the study, said: ‘Witnesses to the huge bombing formations recall that the sky was turned white by aircraft contrails.

‘It was apparent to us that the Allied bombing of World War 2 represented an inadvertent environmental experiment on the ability of aircraft contrails to affect the energy coming into and out of the Earth at that location.’

The research is published today in the International Journal of Climatology.

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