Study: ‘Climate change could lengthen the flight times of some air travel’
As changing wind patterns in the jet stream cause some long-haul air flights to take longer, the longer time in the air would mean jet airliners are pumping ever more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere from their engine exhaust, the researchers say.
They then used climate models to assess the possible effect on flight times due to increasing variations of the jet stream, the current of high-altitude winds that blow in the Northern Hemisphere from west to east. Even small increases in round-trip flight times as a result of changes in wind speed and direction could see major increases in fuel consumption and thus emission for airlines, they say in their study being published in Nature Climate Change
The airline industry already is responsible for 3.5 percent of all greenhouse gas emission, according to the International Panel on Climate Change.
Any increase in airline travel times could result in a feedback loop between the carbon emissions of airplanes and our changing climate, Woods Hole geologists and geophysicist Kris Karnauskas says.