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Climate Change Leading To More Turbulence During Flight: Study

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Climate Change Leading To More Turbulence During Flight: Study

The study was published in the journal, Geophysical Research Letters.

New research has said that flight turbulence has increased as climate change has warmed the planet. The scientists at Reading University in the UK studied clear-air turbulence and found that warmer air, caused by carbon emissions, is causing bumpier flights around the world with severe turbulence in North Atlantic up by 55 per cent since 1979.

Turbulence happens when a plane flies through clashing bodies of air moving at widely different speeds. It usually results in nothing more than a bumpy ride, however, in worst cases, turbulence can cause severe damage and injuries.

The study’s co-author Mark Prosser said that every additional minute spent travelling through turbulence increased the wear and tear on an aircraft, as well as the risk of injuries to passengers and flight attendants, reported The Guardian.

“Turbulence makes flights bumpy and can occasionally be dangerous. Airlines will need to start thinking about how they will manage the increased turbulence, as it costs the industry $150-500m annually in the USA alone.”

Professor Paul Williams, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Reading who co-authored the study said, “Following a decade of research showing that climate change will increase clear-air turbulence in the future, we now have evidence suggesting that the increase has already begun.”

He further added that it’s time to invest in improved turbulence forecasting and detection systems, to prevent the rougher air from translating to bumpier flights in the coming decades.

According to BBC, flight routes in the USA and North Atlantic saw the largest increases. Europe, the Middle East, and the South Atlantic also saw significant increases in turbulence.

Prof Williams further explained that the increased turbulence was due to greater wind shear – or differences in wind speed.

The study further said that the radar can pick up turbulence from storms, but clear-air turbulence is almost invisible and hard to detect.

Turbulence can cause injuries for those in flight and severe turbulence can come out of the blue, when passengers are not belted in.

“Nobody should stop flying because they’re afraid of turbulence, but it is sensible to keep your seat belt fastened all the time unless you’re moving around, which is what the pilots do,” said Prof Williams. “That is almost a guarantee that you will be safe even in the worst turbulence.”

The study was published in the journal, Geophysical Research Letters.
 

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