Turbulence: The Causes and What it Means for Air Travelers
Turbulence is a common weather phenomenon that can cause planes to shake, jolt, and move in an irregular way. This can be alarming for travelers, but the good news is that the risk of injury to passengers during turbulence is low, and the most serious problems can be easily prevented. However, the bad news is that turbulence is increasing and is expected to get worse in the future.
What Causes Turbulence?
There are different types of turbulence that can be caused by various factors – some of which are predictable, while others are not.
Wind from Mountains and Irregular Terrains:
When wind travels across terrain with irregular features, such as mountains, the patterns of airflow become complex and turbulent. This can cause a plane to experience turbulence.
In warm temperatures, the Earth’s surface can heat up unevenly, causing different currents of hot and cold air at different altitudes, which can cause turbulence.
Friction of Cold and Warm Fronts:
When cold air collides with warm air, you get weather fronts, which can be the cause of turbulence.
Clear Air Turbulence:
A specific type of turbulence called clear air turbulence (CAT) is caused by changes in the direction of air streams or invisible rivers of air moving a few miles above the Earth’s surface – known as wind shear. This kind of turbulence is typically not visible and can strike unexpectedly.
The Impact of Turbulence on Air Travelers:
While turbulence causes anxiety and discomfort in passengers, it is usually not a life-threatening situation for people onboard the plane. The most common injuries during turbulence happen when a passenger is not secured in their seat and gets thrown around the cabin, or when cabin crew members are moving around during turbulence.
To ensure passenger safety during turbulence, it is important to wear a seatbelt at all times when seated, obey instructions from the flight crew, and keep the area around you as clear as possible.
The Future of Turbulence:
Experts predict that due to climate change, turbulence is likely to increase in the future. A study from the University of Reading in the UK found that turbulence could become up to three times more frequent and severe by 2050 as a result of climate change, making it an important consideration for those in the aviation industry.
Frequently Asked Questions:
1. Is it safe to fly during turbulence?
Yes, it is safe to fly during turbulence as long as passengers follow safety protocols and wear seatbelts. Turbulence is a common and natural occurrence during flights, and pilots take steps to avoid turbulent weather to ensure safety.
2. Can turbulence cause a plane to crash?
Turbulence is not likely to cause a plane to crash, but it can cause discomfort and injuries if passengers are not properly secured and follow safety guidelines.
3. How can I prepare for turbulence on a flight?
If the thought of turbulence makes you anxious, try to sit in the front of the plane, as turbulence is typically felt more in the back. You can also take deep breaths and practice relaxation techniques.
4. What should I do if I am injured during turbulence on a flight?
If you are injured during turbulence, seek medical attention from a qualified professional immediately.
5. Could climate change make turbulence worse?
Studies indicate that climate change could lead to an increase in turbulence, making it important for the aviation industry to plan and adapt for future flying conditions.
In conclusion, turbulence is a natural weather phenomenon that can cause discomfort and anxiety during air travel. While the risk of injury to passengers is low, it is important to follow safety protocols to prevent serious problems. With the potential for turbulence to increase in the future as a result of climate change, the aviation industry will need to adapt to ensure the safety and comfort of passengers.