Evidence indicates that global warming stimulates wind shear events at the jet stream, with a significant increase in turbulence when transitioning in and out of the high-velocity airflow aloft. Speaking at the Sustainable Aviation Futures Congress in Amsterdam last week, Paul Williams, professor of atmospheric science at the University of Reading, UK, said: “We have plenty of evidence that the jet stream is now 15 % more strongly sheared since the beginning of the satellites. measure in the 1970s. And that’s what causes a lot of turbulence, especially clear air turbulence [CAT]. It’s a huge change. Our calculations indicate that there will be two or three times more severe turbulence in the coming decades due to climate change.
According to the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), there has been an increase in “head-butt” turbulence on airline flights. Turbulence-related injuries have become the most common type of air accident, the NTSB said, with cabin crew members 24 times more likely to be injured than passengers. Turbulence also accounts for more than $500 million a year in damages and delays, the board said.
And while strong tailwinds can speed up a trip from west to east, the reverse happens when heading the other way. And because flights spend significantly more flying time at slower ground speed in the wind, the net result is longer flight times, overall, and increased fuel burn, according to cited studies. at the Amsterdam meeting.