Research reported in the peer reviewed journal Nature Climate Change finds that transatlantic flights may well get much bumpier, and potentially less reliable in terms of on time performance, by 2050.
Scientists studying the phenomenon of clear air turbulence have found that atmospheric jet streams are likely to be strengthened by anthropogenic climate change. At cruise altitudes corresponding to the North Atlantic most clear-air turbulence measures show a 10–40% increase in the median strength of turbulence and a 40–170% increase in the frequency of occurrence of moderate or greater turbulence when the concentration of carbon dioxide is doubled. These results suggest that climate change will lead to significantly more turbulence affecting transatlantic flights by the middle of this century. Journey times may lengthen and fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions from aircraft may increase as pilots attempt to respond to the strengthened jet streams. Incidents of damage to aircraft and passengers may also increase in frequency.
The article, abstract free, full article pay, is available at http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nclimate1866.html