We've all heard of the ways that climate change will affect the Earth in the coming years. Temperatures will climb, oceans will rise, severe weather systems like thunderstorms, droughts, and floods will increase, and undoubtedly the economy will be altered in some meaningful way, but there will also be other effects that we're still discovering. Now, British scientists have predicted another effect: Climate change will increase turbulence on airplanes.
This discovery was revealed in the journal Advances in Atmospheric Sciences. Scientists tested the increased atmospheric carbon dioxide predicted to be in the air by the end of the century in a computer simulation and found that flights will become more bumpy. What is significant about this discovery is that scientists have pinpointed predictions about how much different types of turbulence will increase with the added carbon dioxide. In fact, light turbulence will increase by 59 percent, moderate turbulence will increase by 94 percent, and severe turbulence will increase by a whopping 149 percent.
Some people already consider turbulence a scary reality when flying. I myself have been spooked a few times when my flight has gone though a particularly bad patch of turbulence that nearly bounces me out of my seat. The ups and downs of roller coaster rides are fun, but not when you're high in the air in a giant machine with nothing attaching you to a rail. So the fact that it will very likely increase with time is a troubling thought.
There are three different causes of interference that create turbulence. Warm air that goes through cooler air creates thermal interference, mountains or other manmade structures interrupt the air flow to create mechanical interference, and two pockets of opposite-moving air create shear interference. Injuries can occur during turbulence, but they are rare.
The little piece of good news in all this is that since scientists have been able to predict this, we'll also hopefully be able to figure out ways to combat it. And since pilots already experience turbulence, they do have techniques to counteract it during a flight as much as possible, and can work toward more effective ones.
Climate change has already begun to cause damage to the Earth, and if we don't get serious about it soon, the damage will be much worse. Turbulent flights will be one concern, but there will surely be others that we'll face in the future. It's important that people are aware of the side effects of allowing climate change to continue at an alarming rate. It will affect everyone in their day-to-day lives, so the more we are informed about it now, the better we'll be able to adjust in the future. Now is the time to push for carbon reform and other measures that will slow the harmful effects predicted for the Earth.