From: Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences
Published April 6, 2017 08:33 AM

Buckle up! Climate Change to Increase Severe Aircraft Turbulence

Turbulence strong enough to catapult unbuckled passengers and crew around the aircraft cabin could become twice or even three times as common because of climate change, according to a new study from the University of Reading published in Advances in Atmospheric Sciences (AAS), an international journal published by Springer and hosted by the Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences.

The study is the first ever to examine the future of severe turbulence, which causes planes to undergo random up-and-down motions that are stronger than gravity. Passengers are forced violently against their seat belts, any unsecured objects are tossed about, and food service and walking are impossible.

The study examines several different turbulence strength levels, to investigate how they will each change in future. The results show that the average amount of light turbulence in the atmosphere will increase by 59%, with light-to-moderate turbulence increasing by 75%, moderate by 94%, moderate-to-severe by 127%, and severe by 149%.

The study is the first ever to examine the future of severe turbulence, which causes planes to undergo random up-and-down motions that are stronger than gravity. Passengers are forced violently against their seat belts, any unsecured objects are tossed about, and food service and walking are impossible.

The study examines several different turbulence strength levels, to investigate how they will each change in future. The results show that the average amount of light turbulence in the atmosphere will increase by 59%, with light-to-moderate turbulence increasing by 75%, moderate by 94%, moderate-to-severe by 127%, and severe by 149%.

Read more at Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences

Image: The paper is featured on the cover of Advances in Atmospheric Sciences, Volume 34, Issue 5. Red shading indicates patches of clear-air turbulence within the undulating jet stream over North America and the North Atlantic. Also shown are a typical flight route between New York (JFK) and London (LHR) and the measured increase in carbon dioxide (CO2) since the industrial revolution. The cover is produced based on climate model simulations. (Credit: Advances in Atmospheric Sciences; image credit: Paul Williams)

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