Study shows climate change is making airplane turbulence worse

April 4, 2023
Occurrences of severe turbulence could triple by 2025 as wind sheers become stronger, Ryan Erik King writes for Jalopnik.

NEW YORK - Most passengers that have stepped foot on a commercial airliner have had to deal with turbulence. A sudden jolt while walking down the aisle to the lavatory or getting shaken awake during a redeye flight. Turbulence is inevitable, but it has been getting more severe. The abrupt air has damaged planes and injured passengers. A study has found that the conditions for turbulence have been becoming more frequent over past decades because of climate change and will become even more frequent, Ryan Erik King writes for JalopnikContinue reading original article.

The Military & Aerospace Electronics take:

4 April 2023 - In the data published in Nature (click here to review) it is shown that vertical shear in jet streams is now 15 percent stronger than in 1979, and it's expected to continue to increase in strength and severe turbulence could become three times as common by 2050.

Paul Williams, the study’s co-author and a professor of atmospheric science, told Newsweek “We have accumulated a large body of scientific evidence now that turbulence is increasing because of climate change. An invisible form called clear-air turbulence is generated by wind shear, which, because of climate change, is now 15 percent stronger than in the 1970s. We expect a further strengthening of the wind shear in the coming decades, perhaps doubling or tripling the amount of severe turbulence.”

Williams says that just because the likelihood of turbulence occurrences in the atmosphere are increasing, it doesn't necessarily mean your future flight may be bumpier or more dangerous thanks to technology and improvements to aircraft.

“Turbulence forecasts that pilots use to plan smooth flight routes are improving all the time, modern aircraft are better at handling turbulence, and passenger compliance with seatbelt advice may be improving,” Williams says. “Whether the more turbulent atmosphere translates into more injuries remains to be seen.”

Related: Turbulence model could help design aircraft capable of handling extreme scenarios

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Related: Avionics touchscreen in the F-35 can be hard to use because turbulence makes finger control difficult

Jamie Whitney, Associate Editor
Military + Aerospace Electronics

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