Climate change is set to cause 'severe turbulence' for air passengers worldwide - Foenaija - Home
Climate change is set to cause 'severe turbulence' for air passengers worldwide

Climate change is set to cause 'severe turbulence' for air passengers worldwide

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  • Rising temperatures in the atmosphere could be causing more turbulence at cruising altitudes. 
  • Turbulence already costs airlines $200 million annually. 
  • Better forecasting is needed to save the airlines money and to stop more people from being seriously injured.


Get plane sick? Feel a bit panicky about being 39,000 feet up? Fear the dreaded "turbulence" announcement? Well, thanks to global warming, your ride is likely to get worse.

In the first ever study on turbulence, scientists have found that by the period 2050 to 2080 "severe" bumpiness will become a common thing for flight passengers due to climate change.

The study, published online in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union, states that extreme turbulence is caused by forces that are stronger than gravity and is (cover your ears) strong enough to throw people and luggage around.

Essentially it works like this: global warming increases temperatures and as a result unstable winds at high altitudes in the jet stream are strengthened which creates intense and more frequent turbulence.

It’s going to be hard to avoid too. The researchers found that the most popular destinations are likely to be most affected due to the frequency of the air traffic. They’ve actually said that severe turbulence at a typical cruising altitude is likely to become up to two or three times as common over the the North Atlantic (180% more common), Europe (160% more common), North America (110% more common), the North Pacific (90% more common), and Asia (60% more common).

The southern hemisphere and tropical regions aren’t getting away scot-free either. The amount of airspace containing severe turbulence is estimated to increase by 60% over South America, 50% over Australia and 50% over Africa.

Despite common thought, turbulence is actually highly unlikely to be deadly or cause any real danger to the aircraft itself but it can of course cause injuries.

Currently, it’s the most common cause of serious injuries to flight attendants and is estimated to cost US airlines up to $200 million annually.

Speaking about the study's findings, Paul Williams, Professor of Atmospheric Science at the University of Reading in the United Kingdom and lead author of the new study, said: "Air turbulence is increasing across the globe, in all seasons, and at multiple cruising altitudes. This problem is only going to worsen as the climate continues to change."

"Our study highlights the need to develop improved turbulence forecasts, which could reduce the risk of injuries to passengers and lower the cost of turbulence to airlines."

NOW WATCH: Why you should expect more turbulence next time you fly

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