Global warming causes turbulence

One of the uncomfortable things about flying is turbulence. At times, it is unavoidable for pilots to go through these choppy areas.

There is turbulence being associated with cumulonimbus-type clouds. In particular, cumulonimbus (storm clouds). This is no surprise to pilots. When entering such clouds, there is a rattling in the aircraft. But there are others, more unpredictable, which arise in the absence of clouds. They are not always detectable. This is clear air turbulence, known in aeronautical jargon as CAT (Clear Air Turbulence).

Global warming causes turbulence in airplanes, more and more.
Global warming causes turbulence on airplanes, more and more.

Turbulence in sight

Appears in the vicinity of jet streams. Commercial aircraft take advantage of them to reduce their flight paths and fuel consumption. They take advantage of the additional thrust provided by the strong winds that blow in them. To penetrate a jet stream, an aircraft must pass through CAT zones. But in the near future it will be a much more traumatic experience for passengers.

what happens if the Earth’s temperature rises? The upheaval in CATs will be greater. This was concluded by a team of scientists led by Paul Williams. He is Professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Reading (England). Global warming causes more and more turbulence.

In the future, accidents due to turbulence will be more common.
In the future, accidents due to turbulence will be more common.

Challenges of aviation

Such an increase is already being detected on many air routes. If global warming continues its trend, severe turbulence will follow. What does this lead to? Onboard accidents in the form of damage and injuries to passengers.

It could even triple in the coming decades. Atmospheric simulations were carried out using a supercomputer. They measured how turbulence will increase on transatlantic flights in winter at a cruising altitude of 12 kilometers. The variation from moderate to severe will grow by 149%.

Research of this nature is not without uncertainties. But it is a wake-up call. Climate change, demands drastic reductions in CO2 emissions from aircraft. And it will also drive the search for new, “less turbulent” routes. Fear of flying could ground many people.

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