Monday, 8 April 2013

Global Warming to Possibly Affect Air Travel

Let's assume for this story that global warming is 100% real (I'm not arguing it's not however I think it's a lot more complicated than people are allowing it to be) and that the earth will be gradually getting warmer. Sure we'll have melting ice caps and warmer weather plus rising sea levels but this is all land based. People forgot about what would happen in the

Aircraft companies will have their work cut out for them if the recent discoveries are true as global warming could have severe repercussions on the speed of high-altitude jet streams that the aircrafts are so reliant on. Rising CO2 emissions would more than likely increase the speed of the streams which would increase the likelihood of turbulence occurring.

Aircrafts in general are well built to withstand extreme cases of turbulence in the air however pilots are still instructed to avoid severe patches where possible. The major problem global warming will have is that it will increase the amount of clear-air turbulence which is invisible to both the human eye and the high-tech instruments on planes and is pretty much unavoidable until you know it's there.

The effect this would have on current aircraft in service could be rather dangerous as it would result in them undergoing extended periods of time under turbulence, causing them to experience stress loading that they would not normally have to endure and thus considerably reducing the life-cycle of the aircraft components. This could prove to be very costly to airline companies if after every few trips they had to replace different parts of the plane.

The simple solution to this would be to say "Let's just make sure all future aircraft designs take this into account". Unfortunately things aren't so simple as it normally takes around 20 years for an aircraft design to become a reality. If CO2 levels are rising as rapidly as we thought, by the time we have planes capable of withstanding these expected increases in turbulence it may be too late.

Of course, that's just assuming everything we're being told about global warming is true...

[via New Scientist]

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