Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Does Climate Change Cause Flight Turbulence?

Climate
Does Climate Change Cause Flight Turbulence?

In the past year alone, several studies suggested that flights will become bumpier in the future, in part, because of climate change. Researchers say some occurrences earlier this year might help make that case.

In the span of a week, turbulence injured flight passengers and crew members in Billings, MT and just above Japan on a flight from San Francisco. A combined 13 crew members and passengers were hurt. On the flight into Billings, the turbulence flung a baby from its mothers arms and into a seat. 

CNN decided to look into the matter, sending correspondent George Howell on a flight from Austin, TX to Chicago, IL, which he and another passenger agreed was the bumpiest flight they had been on. The fact that the flight Howell took for a piece on climate change ended up being bumpy could be a mere coincidence or a costly case of trial and error. Atmospheric scientist Dr. Paul Williams, a researcher of the University of Reading's department of meteorology isn't willing to deem climate change as the chief cause of increased turbulence, but he says it certainly won't help matters.

"We'll never be able to say that one particular person's flight experience, which was bumpy, was caused by climate change. Of course we can't," Williams said. "What we can say is that as the climate changes, the odds of encountering turbulence on your flight are increasing."

Williams says carbon dioxide is one of the key elements changing temperatures and wind speeds in jet streams, which leads to bumpier plane rides and unfortunate injuries like those experienced on a flight in South Africa that is discussed in the CNN report.

With restaurants and supermarkets becoming less viable options during the pandemic, there has been a growth in demand and supply of local food. Baker County Tourism Travel Baker County / Flickr

By Robin Scher

Beyond the questions surrounding the availability, effectiveness and safety of a vaccine, the COVID-19 pandemic has led us to question where our food is coming from and whether we will have enough.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Tearing through the crowded streets of Philadelphia, an electric car and a gas-powered car sought to win a heated race. One that mimicked how cars are actually used. The cars had to stop at stoplights, wait for pedestrians to cross the street, and swerve in and out of the hundreds of horse-drawn buggies. That's right, horse-drawn buggies. Because this race took place in 1908. It wanted to settle once and for all which car was the superior urban vehicle. Although the gas-powered car was more powerful, the electric car was more versatile. As the cars passed over the finish line, the defeat was stunning. The 1908 Studebaker electric car won by 10 minutes. If in 1908, the electric car was clearly the better form of transportation, why don't we drive them now? Today, I'm going to answer that question by diving into the history of electric cars and what I discovered may surprise you.

Read More Show Less

Trending

A technician inspects a bitcoin mining operation at Bitfarms in Saint Hyacinthe, Quebec on March 19, 2018. LARS HAGBERG / AFP via Getty Images

As bitcoin's fortunes and prominence rise, so do concerns about its environmental impact.

Read More Show Less
OR-93 traveled hundreds of miles from Oregon to California. Austin Smith Jr. / Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs / California Department of Fish and Wildlife

An Oregon-born wolf named OR-93 has sparked conservation hopes with a historic journey into California.

Read More Show Less
A plume of exhaust extends from the Mitchell Power Station, a coal-fired power plant built along the Monongahela River, 20 miles southwest of Pittsburgh, on Sept. 24, 2013 in New Eagle, Pennsylvania. The plant, owned by FirstEnergy, was retired the following month. Jeff Swensen / Getty Images

By David Drake and Jeffrey York

The Research Brief is a short take about interesting academic work.

The Big Idea

People often point to plunging natural gas prices as the reason U.S. coal-fired power plants have been shutting down at a faster pace in recent years. However, new research shows two other forces had a much larger effect: federal regulation and a well-funded activist campaign that launched in 2011 with the goal of ending coal power.

Read More Show Less