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Climate change is increasing the incidence of flight disruptions

Climate change is increasing the incidence of flight disruptions

For scientists who study Earth’s atmosphere, climate change is making flight disruptions more frequent and severe. In 2023, researchers from the United Kingdom published a paper in the journal Geophysical Research Letters Which shows that these events are 55% more common in the North Atlantic, including northern Brazil.

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Recently, one of the study’s authors, Paul D. Williams, from the University of Reading, England, He commented on this finding again for the journal nature. Moreover, data from his research show significant increases in clear-air turbulence — which occurs outside clouds and is stronger than Earth’s gravity — over the past four decades.

Theory to test

For experts, this is one of the consequences of climate change. In general, they strengthen jet streams, which are powerful air flows that orbit the planet. And the Disorder They often occur at the edges of these streams.

In order to test how this happens, Williams and a group of researchers created a climate model. They estimated changes in clear air turbulence with rising temperatures. As a result, they found that severe disturbances become more frequent in these conditions than mild or moderate disturbances.

“It doesn’t mean we’ll have to stop flying, or that planes will start falling out of the sky. “I’m just saying that for every 10 minutes you spent in severe turbulence in the past, it could be 20 or 30 minutes in the future,” Paul explained. Williams, also an author on the paper. nature.

In general, meteorological centers can predict DisorderSo pilots rely on these forecasts to plan flight paths. But currently, radars are only used to identify those with storm clouds.

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This way, obvious atmospheric turbulence is not picked up. However, a technology called LiDAR can help, because it uses a different wavelength of light and can therefore detect this phenomenon. This aircraft is still expensive and requires a large, heavy trunk to operate, but if it can be adapted, it should represent an option to reduce turbulence during flights.

It is worth noting that climate change is not only leading to increased turbulence in flights in the North Atlantic. This also happens in Brazil.