Jan 19, 2019 | Updated: 08:24 AM EST

Bad News For Airline Passengers: Climate Change Could Make Travel Bumpier, Disturbing & Expensive

Apr 07, 2017 05:41 AM EDT


A recent study has warned that air travel could become significantly uncomfortable and very turbulent given the recent climate change. The study also says that fuel and maintenance costs are going to get increased due to this in the forthcoming years.

According to The Washington Post, increased amount of carbon dioxide concentrations in the air can cause changes to occur in the jet stream over the North Atlantic flight passage. The researchers are afraid that this climate change can lead to an increase in air turbulence as well. The study predicts that aircraft are going to face a rise in turbulence by almost 59 percent, owing to the fact that there has been no effort made to decrease the amount of carbon dioxide in the air. This might happen by the middle of the century.

Researchers examined 21 separate wind-related characteristics that are known as indicators of air turbulence level in an area experiencing heavy air traffic over North Atlantic. This includes changes in wind speed as well as air flow directions. They found that across the spectrum there has been a change in turbulence. The results show that climate change has a direct effect on air turbulence. Even with an increase in light turbulence, there can be significant wear and tear to the planes, forcing pilots to change their flight paths to avoid the rough wind, thus consuming more fuel.

According to the Independent, researchers have found that increased level of carbon dioxide leads to an increase in light to moderate turbulence by 75 percent, moderate turbulence by 94 percent, moderate to severe turbulence by 127 percent and severe turbulence by 149 percent. A typical turbulence lasts almost five minutes of flight time, covering a distance of one km with a thickness of 0.6 miles. It has been seen that each year 55 cases of serious injuries happen to flights attendants and passengers due to flight turbulence and this will increase with the climate changes.

However, other estimates claim that the actual injury rate has been much higher than the ones officially reported. They suggest that there have been about 5000 incidents with severe turbulence each year. Climate changes led turbulence has caused very serious injuries to flights as well as flights attendants and passengers.

In an unfortunate incident on December 9, 1992, extreme air turbulence tore off the wing of a jet traveling over Colorado, US. The planes lost one of its four engines in the turbulent weather. Till now climate changes was believed to only affect the environment but this study shows that even machines reel under its direct and indirect influence.

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