TECH

Climate Change Is Going To Increase Severe Turbulence On Flights

By a staggering 149% 😳

10/04/2017 12:26

Turbulence strong enough to throw unbuckled passengers around a cabin could become twice or even three times more likely as a result of climate change.

That’s the worrying findings from a study by the University of Reading which has been looking into how turbulence will change as the planet’s climate changes.

Aaron Foster via Getty Images

It’s the first of its kind and reveals some rather worrying results which show that light turbulence in the atmosphere will increase by 59%, light-to-moderate turbulence will increase by 75%, moderate by 94%, moderate-to-severe by 127%.

Finally, and perhaps most worryingly,  severe turbulence will increase by a massive 149%.

As Dr Paul Williams, who conducted the research, points out severe turbulence is by far the most dangerous with instances hospitalising both passengers and crew members every year.

The survey was carried out using a supercomputer which was able to calculate how turbulence would change if there were twice as much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere - a situation that’s widely expected to occur later this century.

Dr Williams said: “Our new study paints the most detailed picture yet of how aircraft turbulence will respond to climate change.

“For most passengers, light turbulence is nothing more than an annoying inconvenience that reduces their comfort levels, but for nervous fliers even light turbulence can be distressing.

While a slightly bumpier ride might be considered a minor inconvenience within the global problem that is climate change, turbulence is a major problem for airlines and these changes could have huge implications on our ability to travel around the world.

According to statistics provided by the University of Reading, there are an estimated 63,000 encounters with moderate-or-greater turbulence and 5,000 encounters with severe-or-greater turbulence annually.

Turbulence alone costs United States air carriers around $200m every year. No small sum.

This Is What Climate Change Did To The Planet In 2016

  • The Ocean
    Ho New / Reuters
    2016 ocean temperatures were above normal across the board. Caused by a combination of El Niño and global warming resulted in catastrophic coral bleaching across the Great Barrier Reef. Coral mortality was as high as 50 per cent in some parts of the reef.
  • The Arctic
    NASA NASA / Reuters
    Arctic sea ice levels were well below normal this year. The seasonal minimum in September was 4.14 million square kilometres, the equal-second (with 2007) lowest extent on record after 2012. The winter maximum in March was the lowest on record.
  • Heatwaves
    Amit Dave / Reuters
    There were a number of major heatwaves during 2016. The year started with an extreme heatwave in southern Africa. Many stations set all-time records, including 42.7°C at Pretoria and 38.9°C at Johannesburg on 7 January.
  • Wildfires
    Handout . / Reuters
    The most damaging wildfire in Canadian history occurred in May in the city of Fort McMurray in Alberta. The fire ultimately burned an area of about 590,000 hectares and was Canada’s most costly natural disaster. It led to the total evacuation of the city and ultimately destroyed 2,400 buildings.
  • Air Pollution
    Manish Swarup/AP
    Annual average global carbon dioxide concentrations in 2015 reached 400 parts per million (ppm) for the first time. Initial observations indicate new records in 2016. At Cape Grim (Australia), CO2 levels in August averaged 401.42 ppm, compared with 398.13 ppm in August 2015.
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