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Climate change impacts on air travel

Increasingly intense atmospheric turbulence, air carriers are adopting measures to minimize them

Climate change could affect air travel much more than we imagine. To understand how the future of flight can change, just think about atmospheric turbulence. Air carriers have already taken steps to minimize or avoid them, including through better forecasting of weather conditions. But now the warming of the atmosphere is having a greater influence on the winds at different altitudes.

Scientists have built a model of how climate change is affecting air travel. For example, in 2019 Paul Williams, professor of Atmospheric sciences at the UK's University of Reading, carried out research on turbulence along northern transatlantic routes. The analysis showed that atmospheric dynamics changed significantly in the late 1970s.

In detail, the Wind Shear index (degree of wind speed variation at different altitudes) has increased by 15% from 1979 to today. This results in greater turbulence: it means that these wind differences create greater atmospheric disturbances, similar to the rippling waves of a swollen river.

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AVIONEWS - World Aeronautical Press Agency