Climate change to 'increase turbulence and flight prices'

Experts say climate change will make flying more dangerous


Climate change to 'increase turbulence and flight prices'

Climate change will make turbulence more common, increase flight times and delays and lead to higher fares, says a new study.

Atmospheric scientist Dr Paul Williams of the University of Reading says that while it has long been known that aviation has an impact on global warming, "it is becoming increasingly clear that the interaction is two-way and that climate change has important consequences for aviation".

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According to the Express, commercial planes currently travel at around 30, 000 feet, which means they can travel in fast moving winds called the jet stream and use them to their advantage to speed up the flight time.

However as the planet gets hotter there will be bigger grades of temperature affecting these jet streams causing greater turbulence.

The report examined flights between London and New York, which is one of the busiest routes in the world. The study focused on clear-air turbulence in winter, which is especially problematic to airliners, because clear-air turbulence is invisible to pilots and satellites, and it is at its peak in winter.

Dr Williams suggested that by 2050, the jet stream will be 15 per cent stronger due to climate change, which means there will be times the jet stream is too turbulent to travel, leading to flight delays westbound. The eastbound route, conversely, could be made shorter as a result.

Longer flights could lead to more expensive fares. The Daily Telegraph explains: "Aircraft on transatlantic routes were collectively projected to be airborne for an extra 2,000 hours a year, burning an extra 7.2 million gallons of jet fuel and emit an extra 70 million kilograms of carbon dioxide."

The paper adds that "every extra two minutes in the air is said to use approximately 100 gallons of fuel per aircraft and cost an additional $20 million annually".

Turbulence will also lead to higher flight prices. The study said: "Any increase in turbulence would make flying more uncomfortable and increase the risk to passengers and crew. Re-routing flights to avoid stronger patches of turbulence could increase fuel consumption and emissions of atmospheric pollutants, make delays at airports more common, and ultimately push up ticket prices."

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