Outstanding Publication Award

Andrew J. Heymsfield (NESL/MMM), Gregory Thompson (RAL/HAP), Hugh Morrison (NESL/MMM), Aaron Bansemer (NESL/MMM), Roy M. Rasmussen (RAL/HAP), Patrick Minnis (NASA Langley Research Center), Zhien Wang (University of Wyoming), and Damao Zhang (University of Wyoming)

The nominated paper combines a multi-faceted approach to hypothesize and test the physical and dynamical basis of aircraft-induced cloud holes. The nominees show that the interactions of the microphysical processes of ice crystal growth in these clouds with the dynamics of the downdrafts around the center of the holes are responsible for their formation and growth over time. This paper is an excellent means of educating the public on basic cloud physics. The nominees utilized a unique combination of techniques to understand these hole-punch clouds, including satellite observations, aircraft track information, and detailed numerical modeling. They measured the rate of spread and persistence of the holes; they evaluated the exact aircraft that produced the holes and determined that inadvertent ice production occurs from private, commercial and military propeller, as well as jet aircraft; they also provided an explanation for how the ice production occurs for jet aircraft. In addition, using the WRF model, they numerically modeled the layer cloud case; they demonstrated that aircraft departing from a major airport inadvertently seeded a low-level subfreezing cloud, generating copious snow; and they quantified how frequently this inadvertent seeding is near five major commercial airports, requiring 20% more de-icing operations in midlatitude airport locations. The impact of this paper has been huge -- garnering attention from most major media outlets and via websites across the world.

Heymsfield, A. J., G. Thompson, H. Morrison, A. R. Bansemer, R. M. Rasmussen, P. Minnis, Z. Wang, and D. Zhang, 2011: Formation and spread of aircraft-induced holes in clouds. Science, 333, 77-81