Last updated: 02:30 PM ET, Mon July 11 2016

Will Global Warming Affect Air Travel?

Airlines & Airports | Janeen Christoff | July 11, 2016

Will Global Warming Affect Air Travel?

Photo courtesy Thinkstock

Will Global Warming Affect Air Travel? The answer is yes, finds an article and radio interview on Public Radio International (PRI)

“As the temperature increases, the density of the air on the runway decreases, which decreases the lift force on the wings of the plane. That, of course, makes it more difficult for it to take off,” explains Paul Williams, a Royal Society University research fellow in the department of meteorology at the University of Reading in the UK in the PRI interview.

One of the most telling examples of the affects of global warming on flights was when a recent United Airlines flight was forced to turn around and head back to Houston due to excessive heat.

Have you ever heard of “weight restriction days?” These are “days when planes can’t take off without removing either passengers or cargo” and, according to the article, they have increased four-fold since 1980.

“It doesn’t happen very often, but the projection is that we'll see an increase in the number of weight restriction days by between 50 and 200 percent in the coming decades, as the globe continues to warm,” Williams adds.

And these are just a few of the ways in which global warming can affect flights. It’s also projected that prevailing winds on trans-Atlantic routes will be significantly stronger by the end of the century. There will also likely be more turbulence and longer flight times. And that is just the beginning.

You can hear the entire interview here.


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