Air turbulence to get worse

10th Apr 2013
Written by: Macca Sherifi

Air turbulence to get worse

Climate change could lead to more turbulent flights

If you hate flying then you’re not going to be a happy customer about this one.

According to a new study, air turbulence is likely to go up by 10-40% by 2050, causing more passengers to reach for the sickness bag.

The report published in the Nature Climate Change journal says that clear air turbulence – a sharp movement of air that happens even in good weather – is likely to get worse in the coming decades because of climate change.

Air turbulence to worsen

Any air traveller who has experienced turbulence will know it can happen without warning and is caused by climate conditions such as atmospheric pressure, jet streams, cold and warm fronts or thunderstorms.

The report looks into the air over the North Atlantic, which is one of the busiest flight corridors in the world – 600 planes travel between Europe and North America each day. They believe that as greenhouse gases increase, clear air turbulence will also rise, putting more planes in danger’s way.

What’s more, this particular type of turbulence doesn’t show up on an airplane’s radar, making it tough for pilots to dodge. Planes that are given a heads up by other aircraft might be able to detour around the turbulence, but that would mean longer flight times and using up more fuel, which in turn contributes to the climate change problem and of course pushes up the cost of flight prices.

But don’t start popping the motion sickness pills just yet. Some scientists say the study isn’t conclusive and believe there needs to be more research into the matter. Interesting though.

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