Climate Change to Make for Bumpier Transatlantic Flights

by Patrick Brennan

Or so we’re told by research published in Nature Climate Change, an affiliate of Nature, from scientists at the University of Reading and the University of East Anglia (you may remember them for some other famous climate work). The BBC reports:

The study, published in Nature Climate Change, suggests that by mid-century passengers will be bounced around more frequently and more strongly.

The zone in the North Atlantic affected by turbulence could also increase.

Reading’s Dr Paul Williams said comfort was not the only consideration; there were financial consequences of bumpier airspace as well.

“It’s certainly plausible that if flights get diverted more to fly around turbulence rather than through it then the amount of fuel that needs to be burnt will increase,” he told BBC News.

“Fuel costs money, which airlines have to pay, and ultimately it could of course be passengers buying their tickets who see the prices go up.” . . .


They used a supercomputer to simulate likely changes to air currents above 10km in altitude, such as the fast-moving jet stream.

There is evidence to suggest this has been blowing more strongly, and under some scenarios could be prone to more of the instabilities associated with turbulence as the Earth’s climate warms.

This development will no doubt finally get global warming the attention it deserves but has lacked among the transatlantic jet-setter class, especially those who may end up spending more on fuel to fly their own jets around the increased turbulence.

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