Ship Tracks over the Atlantic
A maze of long white clouds is interwoven into the uneven field of white that covers the Atlantic Ocean off the eastern coast of the United States. Although these clouds resemble airplane contrails, they are actually ship tracks, clouds that form around the exhaust released by ships into the still ocean air. Water molecules collect around the tiny particles (aerosols) from exhaust to form a cloud seed. More and more water accumulates on the seed until a visible cloud is formed. Ship tracks provide important clues about how human-produced aerosols affect cloud formation. Though the exhaust released by ships is not a significant source of pollution, it does modify clouds, which may have an impact on climate.
Image Credit: NASA