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Transatlantic flights will get more turbulent, says study

Brace for stormier flights.

A study published in the journal Nature Climate Change says flights across the North Atlantic could get bumpier in the future if the climate changes happen as scientists predict.

Airplanes are already facing stronger winds and could meet even more turbulence, according to research led by scientists at Reading University in England.

Turbulence injures “probably hundreds of passengers, costing airlines tens of millions of dollars and causing structural damage to planes,” says the study. Clear-air turbulence is especially difficult to avoid because it cannot be seen by pilots. Clear-air turbulence is linked to atmospheric jet streams, which are projected to be strengthened by climate change.

“Our results suggest that climate change will lead to bumpier transatlantic flights by the middle of this century,” says the report.

“Journey times may lengthen and fuel consumption and emissions may increase. Aviation is partly responsible for changing the climate, but our findings show for the first time how climate change could affect aviation.”

The researchers focused on the North Atlantic corridor, which some 600 flights cross each day to go between the Americas and Europe.

Raveena Aulakh is the Star's environment reporter. She is intrigued by climate change and its impact, now and long-term. Follow her on Twitter @raveenaaulakh


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