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Yes, turbulence is increasing due to global warming - WTLV-WJXX

Yes, turbulence is increasing due to global warming – WTLV-WJXX

A researcher says passengers should expect longer flights and more delays as airlines try to avoid more turbulence.



The National Center for Atmospheric Research says pilots report about 65,000 moderate or greater encounters with turbulence in the U.S. every year.

Will that number climb due to global warming? 


Is turbulence increasing due to global warming?


Chief Meteorologist Tim Deegan

Isabel Smith – University of Reading Meteorology Research Department

Federal Aviation Administration

National Transportation Safety Board


This is true.

Yes, turbulence is increasing due to global warming.


“The experts in global warming 30 years ago, they would’ve said. ‘Hey, Warming is heat. Heat is a measure of energy. The more energy that goes into the atmosphere, the stormier the atmosphere is going to be, therefore, we would expect more turbulence,'” said Deegan.

Deegan says that’s still the case today, that as we keep warming, the more turbulence we should expect to see.

Isabel Smith from the University of Reading has studied flights from New York to London and says they’ve noticed a trend.

“There is an increase in each type of severity, but you’re more likely to be impacted by light turbulence,” said Smith. “Light turbulence is increasing at a rapid rate at this time.”

Smith says the increase in severe turbulence has not been as drastic.

Data from the FAA backs that up – they’ve tracked serious injuries from turbulence since 2009, without any really discernible trend.

The vast majority of those injuries are to crew members – the National Transportation Safety Board reports nearly 80% of all turbulence injuries from 2009 to 2018 were to flight attendants.

Deegan says, with a little bit of money, we could see significant improvements in technology soon to track turbulence, even in clear skies.

“If it became a priority, I do think we could get better at both observing where it is, especially CAT – clear air turbulence, but also even in forecasting,” said Deegan. “You know what, that better forecasting would benefit all of us, whether you’re flying or not.”

In the meantime, Smith says to expect longer delays and longer flights in the future as airlines try to work around turbulence.


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