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9 April 2013, 14:44
Scientists at the University of Reading have found that climate change will increase turbulence, meaning flights get bumpier.
The study found that, by the middle of this century, the chance of encountering bad turbulence will be double what it is now and that the strength of that turbulence is going to increase by between 10% and 40%.
Dr Paul Williams from the university's Department of Meteorology, has been analysing computer simulations of the jet stream over the North Atlantic Ocean.
Dr Williams said: “Most air passengers will have experienced the uncomfortable feeling of mid-flight air turbulence. Our research suggests that we’ll be seeing the ‘fasten seatbelts’ sign turned on more often in the decades ahead.
“Air turbulence does more than just interrupt the service of in-flight drinks. It injures hundreds of passengers and aircrew every year – sometimes fatally. It also causes delays and damages planes. The total cost to society is about £100 million each year.
“Any increase in turbulence would make flying more uncomfortable and increase the risk to passengers and crew. Re-routing flights to avoid stronger patches of turbulence could increase fuel consumption and emissions of atmospheric pollutants, make delays at airports more common, and ultimately push up ticket prices.
“Aviation is partly responsible for changing the climate in the first place. It is ironic that the climate looks set to exact its revenge by creating a more turbulent atmosphere for flying.”