Climate Change and Air Travel: Trouble Ahead

Today on CBC radio, Paul Williams, University of Reading, predicted some dire reactions to climate change that may drastically affect air travel worldwide:

Increasing turbulence

Stronger head and tail winds

Rising sea levels affecting sea level coastal airports

Increasing cyclones, gales, and hurricanes

Recently, an Air Canada flight from Vancouver to Australia hit excessive uncharted turbulence at high altitude, causing 37 passenger and flight crew injuries. The plane had to immediately divert to Honolulu, Hawaii, where some passengers were hospitalized.

Although it’s been decades since turbulence caused an airliner to actually crash, climate change seems to now be likely to increase the odds.

Dr. Williams has indicated that new technologies of detection have been implemented, and the incidence of violent turbulence is still rare (less than 1%), yet he cautions us to do more to reduce climate change effects. Many more air travel injuries and lives could depend on it.

Terry Hill, PhD


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