Are certain flight paths more susceptible to air turbulence? How will climate change impact this phenomenon? Get your queries resolved.

Are certain flight paths more susceptible to air turbulence? How will climate change impact this phenomenon? Get your queries resolved.

Air turbulence is a common occurrence for air travelers, with severe incidents being rare but potentially deadly. A recent incident on Singapore Airlines flight SQ321 from London to Singapore highlighted the danger of extreme turbulence, resulting in one person’s death from a presumed heart attack and several others sustaining serious injuries. The flight had to divert to Bangkok to provide medical treatment to the injured passengers.

Turbulence can happen anywhere, but it is more prevalent on certain routes. Climate change is expected to increase the frequency and intensity of air turbulence, with some research indicating that it has already worsened over the past few decades.

There are various causes of turbulence. “Wake turbulence” can occur when an aircraft is taking off or landing behind another aircraft, as the wind generated by the lead aircraft’s engine and wingtips disrupts the airflow for the following aircraft. Turbulence can also be caused by strong winds near airports at ground level or by updrafts or downdrafts from thunderstorms at higher altitudes.

One type of turbulence that is particularly challenging to predict and avoid is “clear-air turbulence,” which occurs at higher altitudes and is invisible. It is often caused by warmer air rising into cooler air and is expected to worsen due to climate change.

Turbulence is often experienced near mountain ranges, where wind flowing over the terrain accelerates upward. It also occurs at the edges of jet streams, which are narrow bands of strong high-altitude winds. While aircraft often benefit from traveling in jet streams for increased speed, turbulence can occur when entering or leaving these streams.

Certain routes and regions are more prone to turbulence than others. Airlines use turbulence maps to plan alternate airports or contingencies. Many of the most turbulent routes are located near mountains.

Climate change is expected to have a significant impact on aviation, including increasing turbulence. Studies have shown a large increase in clear-air turbulence between 1979 and 2020, with projections suggesting it may be four times as common by 2050 under certain climate change scenarios.

Currently, technology to detect turbulence is still in the research and development phase. Pilots rely on weather radar to determine the best course of action to avoid areas with high levels of moisture and intense turbulence. They also communicate with air traffic control for guidance and may adjust their altitude to find smoother air.

Ground-based meteorological centers provide real-time weather information to flight crews, including areas of expected turbulence along the intended flight route.

While airlines strive to minimize the impact of turbulence on planes and passengers, it is essential for travelers to heed instructions and fasten their seatbelts when advised to do so. As we navigate through more turbulent times, it is crucial to prioritize safety during air travel.