Will plane crash rate increase? Airplanes face hard time taking off due to climate change

Researchers discovered that the rise in global temperature caused by climate change is preventing airplanes from taking off properly

Researchers from England were able to identify the link between the effects of climate change on Earth and air travel. According to a study, first of its kind, it was found that the rise in global temperatures can prevent airplanes from taking off properly.

The new study was carried out by atmospheric and aviation experts. It was recently published in the online journal Springer Nature.

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An Airbus A380-841 airplane of Singapore Airlines takes-off from Zurich airport, Switzerland, April 14, 2016. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

How Increasing Temperature Affects Airplanes

Guy Gratton, an associate professor of aviation and the environment at Cranfield University, and his colleague Paul Williams, a professor of atmospheric science at the University of Reading, focused on the climate conditions of 10 airports in Greece for their study. They discovered that the increase in global temperature brought on by climate change had affected the conditions that pilots relied on when taking off safely.

Gratton and Williams explained that the rise in global temperature, which has increased by a global average of 1 degree Celsius, as well as weaker winds, are affecting the capabilities of airplanes to take off.

"This is because higher temperatures reduce air density, which the wings and engines need to get airborne," the researchers wrote in an article on The Conversation. "With reduced headwinds, airplanes also need to generate more groundspeed just to get into the air."

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Effects Of Climate Change On Air Travel

Gratton and Williams noted that the link between climate change and the ability of airplanes to take off could eventually affect various aspects of air transportation. For one, in order to compensate for the decrease in air density, airplanes will have to take off from longer runways in order to generate more lift. Airlines could also limit the number of passengers per flight to ease the load of an aircraft. However, since the airplane would still use the same amount of fuel, this could have a direct effect on the prices of airline tickets.

Aside from these, climate change could also worsen the turbulence experienced by airplanes. This could endanger the safety of airplane passengers and crew members since extreme turbulence can cause an aircraft to crash. "Once they're up there, they're subject to in-flight turbulence, which is getting worse due to climate change increasing the energy in jet stream winds," the researchers stated.