Air Turbulence on the Rise: North Atlantic Hit

DALLAS — It might be the case that your seat belts need to be fastened more frequently from now on. Air turbulence has been on the rise, especially over the North Atlantic. The phenomenon has also witnessed a growing trend in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.

According to scientists at Reading University in the UK, who have been carefully studying the trends in what’s known as clear air turbulence (CAT), they point out a 55% increase between 1979 and 2020 over the vast and busy North Atlantic – a dense network of air routes that see hundreds of daily flights.

If CAT continues to increase, will airlines need to invest in new technology to detect such? | Photo: Brandon Farris/Airways

Clear Air Turbulence’s Upward Trend

The intensity of turbulence comes in three categories – light, moderate, and severe. Severe enough to get you out of your seat.

Clear air turbulence is a form of turbulence that occurs at altitude due to random wind shears in clear, cloudless skies. The major issue with CAT is that it’s not picked up by radar or devices that can warn a pilot, unlike a thunderstorm that also produces associated turbulence, which can be detected through an airborne weather radar.

“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,” says Paul Williams, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Reading who co-authored the study as stated on BBC.

“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.”

Co2 emissions are raising the air temperature, with the gradient being steep between the equatorial region and the polar, and this in turn causes severe changes in jet streams at altitudes that affect airplanes.

Featured Image: Michael Rodeback/Airways

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