Climate change will impact flight times across Atlantic: research

Climate change will impact flight times across Atlantic: research

Climate change-caused alterations to the jet stream will likely impact flight times across the Atlantic, a new research published in the Feb. 10th edition of the IOP journal Environmental Research Letters suggested.

The research led by Paul Williams, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Reading, suggested that flights between Europe and North America will take more time to reach their destinations once the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) doubles over pre-industrial levels, which is expected to occur within next few decades.

The scientists estimated that the jet stream, a high-altitude wind blowing from west to east across the Atlantic, will accelerate eastbound flights but decelerate westbound flights.

Lead researcher Williams said, “When you talk about global warming, you immediately think about the changes occurring at ground level where we live, but the climate is changing at all heights in the atmosphere. We don’t live there, but we do fly there.”

Much of this new research focused on climate change’s impact on air journey times as well as the consequent increase in financial cost to the airlines and the passengers.

This research is the latest in a series of studies looking at climate change’s impact on aviation. A 2015 study analyzed data on the duration of thousands of flights between Hawaii, San Francisco, Seattle and Los Angeles over previous two decades, and found that westbound flights were consuming one minute more than eastbound flights. They attributed the additional minute to changes in ocean temperatures.