The unbearable turbulence of climate change


As anyone who reserves their best pair of jeggings for intercontinental air travel will know, the combination of your good jeggings, red wine, and turbulence can be an absolute nightmare. It turns out, adding climate change into the mix will make for a literal (by which I mean figurative) perfect storm.

We all know that climate change is heating up our atmosphere and oceans, causing glaciers and ice sheets to melt, raising sea levels, and increasing risks due to hailstorms, wildfires, hurricanes, and Al Gore lectures. Some of us even know that it's forcing certain trees to move westward. But none of that mattered, because none of it affected me.

What affects me, and the majority of the planet's population, on a daily basis? You guessed it: climate change's impact on airplane turbulence! A recent study in Advances of Atmospheric Science claims that turbulence is only going to get worse as climate change continues to change climates. Using multiple climate models, the authors have determined that in all categories of "wintertime clear-air turbulence," rated from light to severe, bumpiness will increase dramatically (on the order of 60-150%) by the middle of this century (~2050 CE).

You may be wondering, what exactly is "turbulence"? Well, scientifically speaking, it's a menace. But, it's also when two very different parcels of air collide and make everything around them go haywire. Kind of like when Trump meets up with any other world leader...