Plane flights ‘to get more turbulent’

Plane flights 'to get more turbulent'

Flights across the North Atlantic could get a lot bumpier in the future if the climate changes as scientists expect.

Planes are already encountering stronger winds, and could now face more turbulence, according to research led from Reading University, UK.

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.”

Dr Williams was presenting his research here in Vienna at the European Union Geosciences (EGU) General Assembly.

It was undertaken with Dr Manoj Joshi from the University of East Anglia.

The scientists concentrated their investigation on the North Atlantic which some 600 flights cross each day to go between the Americas and Europe.

They used a supercomputer to simulate likely changes to the jet stream, a fast-moving body of air about 10km above the planet’s surface.

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