Not a fan of turbulence? Better go green.

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Not a fan of turbulence? Better go green.

Tatiana A. Dias
September 20th, 2017

Climate change will change your life in some surprising ways over next few decades. From worsening pollen allergies to lowering sex drives, raising the planet’s temperature will have a broad range of impacts. But here’s something for you: did you know that global warming may also make your plane ride considerably bumpier?


General impacts of the Climate Change

Everyone knows that human-produced emissions contribute heavily to climate change. The aviation industry is a substantial emitter of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.


Images of the result of turbulence battering an Aeroflot flight to Bangkok earlier this year raised questions about whether climate change might make such incidents more frequent. And, the answer is yes!




How will Climate Change affect our flights?

Increasing numbers of research publications show that as the planet warms over the second half of this century, we will see a rise in turbulence. Computer simulations predict global warming will create stronger crosswinds in the atmosphere – making severe turbulence much more likely.


Clear-air turbulence (CAT) is the most common cause of your in-flight roller coaster, which has been known to result in considerable injuries. CAT is produced by fast variations in speed or direction of air movement. This occurs usually in and around an invisible current of rapidly moving air called the jet stream, which can be found at a height similar to where commercial planes fly (around 30,000-40,000 feet above the ground).


The jet stream generally follows the boundary between hot and cold air and is greatest when the difference between the hot and cool sides is the strongest. This usually occurs during the winter months. The idea behind the climate change and turbulence link is fairly straight-forward. If climate change influences the intensity and position of the jet stream, the turbulence resulting from that jet stream will be affected.


But don’t cancel your post-2050 flight travel plans just yet! There are questions in some of the latest climate model runs that are still waiting on universal confirmation!


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