Turbulence and Climate Change is there a Connection?

Turbulence and Climate Change is there a Connection?

Could there be a Link Between Turbulence and Climate Change- Some Experts Would Agree!

Earlier this Month a Singapore Airlines flight experienced severe turbulence resulting in the death of British passenger Geoff Kitchen and the severe injury of several other passengers.

The flight from London to Singapore suffered a sudden drop which propelled both people and objects across the cabin before making an emergency landing in Bangkok.

What is Turbulence and Why does it Happen?

Most commonly turbulence happens when planes pass through clouds containing updrafts and downdrafts of wind which can cause the plane to rise or drop suddenly. This type of turbulence is generally mild but can increase in severity depending on the size of the cloud.

There is however a far more dangerous type of turbulence which is more severe and more difficult for a pilot to detect- ‘Clear Air’ turbulence which occurs under cloudless conditions.

Clear Air Turbulence is triggered by a fast flowing jet stream of air usually occurring  at around 40,000-60,000ft, above ground level and can cause rapid speed differences in the air current of over 100 mph. The friction caused between the slower and faster air is what causes ‘Clear Air’ turbulence.

What Type of Turbulence Hit Flight SQ321?

The exact type of turbulence experienced by the Singapore Airlines flight from London has still yet to be confirmed. However, on review of the weather patterns at the time of the flight and the lack of notable cloud, researchers believe flight SQ321 likely experienced ‘Clear Air’ turbulence.

Is Turbulence Becoming more Frequent?

During 2023 a study by scientists at Reading University, UK discovered that severe turbulence had increased by 55% on review of a North Atlantic Route during the period between 1979 and 2020. An increase in moderate turbulence of 37% and light turbulence of 17% was also recorded during the study.

So, Turbulence and Climate Change – Is there a Connection?

Experts believe the increase in severe turbulence is due to changes in wind speed which occur at high altitudes caused by an increase in air temperature. Researchers agree it is extremely likely that the increase in air temperature is a consequence of carbon emissions and its impact on climate change which is increasing wind shear in the jet streams and strenthening clear-air turbulence globally.

Co-Author of the Reading University Study, Paul Williams said

“Following a decade of research showing that climate change will increase clear-air turbulence in the future, we now have evidence suggesting that the increase has already begun. We should be investing in improved turbulence forecasting and detection systems to prevent the rougher air from translating into bumpier flights in the coming decades.”

With the occurrence of turbulence likely to become more common passengers are advised to keep seatbelts fastened at all times when seated as turbulence especially ‘Clear Air’ turbulence can be hard to predict.

Climate Change- How Can E-Verve Energy Help You?

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