Scientists from Reading University, UK, conclude that climate change is responsible for the increasing virulent turbulence over the North Atlantic that take its toll in comfort, in increased jet fuel consumption, and, ultimately, in higher air fares.

The researchers predict that commercial aircraft will experience progressively worse “clear-air” turbulence as atmospheric jet streams intensify.

Because clear-air turbulence can’t be detected by pilots, satellites or instruments, it’s a threat to the safety of passengers and to aircraft as well.

Researcher Dr Paul Williams said that a more turbulent air corridor would cause flights to divert to avoid dangerous wind speeds, thus lengthening flight times and using more fuel.

The study projects that clear-air turbulence would increase 10-40% in intensity with a 40-170% increase in the frequency of occurrence of moderate to greater turbulence.

Though the study suggests the effects of climate change would become a reality by mid-century, there is a body of evidence showing that winds are already blowing more strongly than in the past.

Moreover, the incidents of moderate to greater turbulence currently happening injure many hundreds of passengers and cost airlines tens of millions US dollars annually in fuel and structural damage to aircraft.

Source:  Smart Planet Daily, April 9, 2013    Study published in Nature Climate Change, April 5, 2013


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