KEY POINTS

  • Researchers discovered a direct link between climate change and air travel
  • Airplanes are having a hard time taking off due to climate change
  • The rise in global temperature could worsen turbulence

A team of researchers identified the direct correlation between the ongoing issue of climate change and air travel. Specifically, the researchers noted that the increase in temperature and other environmental changes are making it harder for airplanes to take off.

The new study conducted on the effects of climate change on transportation was carried out by atmospheric and aviation experts from England. Their paper was published in the journal Springer Nature.

Guy Gratton, an associate professor of aviation and the environment at Cranfield University, and his colleague Paul Williams, a professor of atmospheric science at the University of Reading, focused on the climate conditions of 10 airports in Greece for their study.

They discovered that the increase in global temperature brought on by climate change had affected the conditions that pilots relied on when taking off safely. Gratton and Williams explained that the rise in global temperature, which has been measured at an average of 1 degrees Celsius, as well as weaker winds, are affecting the capabilities of airplanes to take off.

“This is because higher temperatures reduce air density, which the wings and engines need to get airborne,” the researchers wrote in an article on The Conversation. “With reduced headwinds, airplanes also need to generate more groundspeed just to get into the air.”

Gratton and Williams noted that the link between climate change and the ability of airplanes to take off could eventually affect various aspects of air transportation. For one, in order to compensate for the decrease in air density, airplanes will have to take off from longer runways in order to generate more lift.

Airlines could also limit the number of passengers per flight to ease the load of an aircraft. However, since the airplane would still use the same amount of fuel, this could have a direct effect on the prices of airline tickets. Aside from these, climate change could also worsen the turbulence experienced by airplanes, endangering the safety of the passengers and crew members on board.

“Once they're up there, they're subject to in-flight turbulence, which is getting worse due to climate change increasing the energy in jet stream winds,” the researchers stated.