A high-resolution regional-scale numerical model was extended by a parameterization that allows for both the generation and the life cycle of contrails and contrail cirrus to be calculated. The life cycle of contrails and contrail cirrus is described by a two-moment cloud microphysical scheme that was extended by a separate contrail ice class for a better representation of the high concentration of small ice crystals that occur in contrails. The basic input data set contains the spatially and temporally highly resolved flight trajectories over Central Europe derived from real-time data. The parameterization provides aircraft-dependent source terms for contrail ice mass and number. A case study was performed to investigate the influence of contrails and contrail cirrus on the shortwave radiative fluxes at the earth’s surface. Accounting for contrails produced by aircraft enabled the model to simulate high clouds that were otherwise missing on this day. The effect of these extra clouds was to reduce the incoming shortwave radiation at the surface as well as the production of photovoltaic power by up to 10 %.