Climate change will cause longer transatlantic flights and increasing fuel costs, according to a new study published Wednesday in the Environmental Research Letters.
As the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere rises, a typical flight from London to New York City that usually takes seven and a half hours will go from 8.6 percent to 15.3 percent, researchers said.
The Huffington Post reported that flights across the Atlantic Ocean could spend 2,000 additional hours each year due to climate change, as affirmed by Dr. Paul Williams, lead author and atmospheric scientist at the University of Reading in England.
He explained that there is a significant correlation between the atmospheric winds and the rising temperatures, which is why the jet stream winds are becoming stronger in response to the temperature changes.
The study suggests that climate change could increase fuel consumption because there is a large number of transatlantic flights each year. As a consequence, CO2 emissions and ticket prices could also jump. The amount of carbon dioxide could double within the next few decades if emissions are not cut quickly.
Researchers predict that the average jet-stream winds will become 15 percent faster in winter along the flight route between London’s Heathrow airport and New York’s John F. Kennedy International airport. Winds could increase from 77 to 89 km/hr. (48 to 55 mph), with similar increases in the rest of the seasons.
Williams noted that the stream winds should not affect north-south routes.
Given that aircrafts will spend additional time in the air, transatlantic flights are expected to burn an extra $22 million worth of fuel annually, as reported by Discovery News. These aircrafts will emit additional 70 million kg of CO2, which equals annual emissions of 7,100 British homes.
Williams said this might be the tip of the iceberg. In previous studies, he calculated that faster winds will also cause air turbulence to increase. This is bad news for passengers who are particularly afraid of bumpier rides and those who hate flights altogether will probably need extra doses of sleeping pills.
Kristopher B. Karnauskas, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Colorado, Boulder, found in a separate research that the carbon footprint of Hawaii-west coast flights would jump by around 5 million kg CO2. He said in an email to Discovery News that he believed William’s results were a significant step forward in finding out how the climate system impacts humans’ lives.
Source: Huffington Post