Higher Carbon Emissions Increase Flight Turbulence
Air travel has a lot of environmental impact caused by noise and gases being released from the engines. This leads to climate change and global warming. The greenhouse gas emissions from air travel have increased significantly in the past decades despite an attempt to increase flight fuel efficiency and improve engines. However, the recent study of British scientists has shown that the climate change caused by aviation will have undesirable effects on air travel itself.
British scientists revealed that, along with the acceleration of global warming, the flights across the oceans will get bumpier from more frequent mid-air turbulence
which will lead to longer travel times and higher fuel consumption. These issues are overlooked and the airlines might not prepare for the changes which result in higher fuel costs, more expensive tickets, and higher risk of injuries and sickness for passengers.
The turbulence can happen with no predictable pattern since it is caused by extreme climate conditions like atmospheric pressure, cold fronts and warm fronts, fast air currents, and thunderstorms. Mild turbulence might only shake the airplane and cause some discomfort and inconvenience. However, the big turbulence can result in the injury of hundreds of passengers and aircrew as well as damage to planes and delays. The total damage is estimated to be around $150 million each year.
The scientists used computer simulations to predict the potential effects of climate change on atmosphere by focusing on the busy North Atlantic flight corridor where there are around 600 commercial airplanes traveling daily between Europe and North America. According to the current turbulence model used by air traffic controllers, the study found that, by 2050 with twice amount of carbon dioxide emissions, the frequency of turbulence occurring on flights between North America and Europe will double and the intensity will be 10-40% stronger.
Moreover, the chance of encountering major turbulence can increase by 40-170%.
This is because carbon dioxide is one of the major greenhouse gases responsible for global warming. The greenhouse gases affect the temperature of the Earth by raising the temperature of the lower atmosphere. The climate changes will also make the atmosphere become less stable for air travel. All these effects will make air travel become less comfortable with higher risks. The pilots will be compelled to reroute from more direct route to avoid severe turbulence which will result in additional fuel usage, higher carbon emissions, higher ticket prices, and more frequent flight delays.
Although air travel is one of the main sources of carbon dioxide emissions, there has never been a comprehensive study about the effects of climate change on aviation industry before. This is the first official study related to the topic. It seems like the climate has found its way to revenge the responsible party by causing more bumps in flying as well as in aviation business. However, there still many other factors to take into account in this study, so the International Air Transport Association does not find that it is necessary to change the ordinary flying procedures. Besides, there might be new technologies that will increase flight fuel efficiency and use alternative energy instead of fuel which can lower the amount of carbon dioxide emissions and lessen the effects of climate change on the industry.