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A new paper in the journal Nature Climate Change argues that thanks to projected changes in the jet stream, one form of air turbulence will likely increase in intensity by between ten and 40 percent in the North Atlantic by 2050, making for more white knuckle transatlantic flights and increasing costs to airlines, damage to planes and injuries to passengers and crew members.
“Our results,” said the authors, “suggest that climate change will lead to bumpier transatlantic flights by the middle of this century.”
The study addresses clear air turbulence, a sharp upward or downward movement of air that can come literally out of the blue, often as the result of wind shear, with no storms or clouds in view. According to the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), turbulence is the leading cause of weather-related injuries on planes, and costs airlines tens of millions of dollars every year.