IT is bad news for those who hate flying, but air travel is about to get a lot bumpier.
Severe turbulence, which can land air passengers in hospital, will be twice as likely on flights over the next 30 years.
This is the warning from the University of Reading, based on research on the jet stream which controls Britain’s weather.
Warming air currents at 35,000 feet will raise light turbulence by 40 per cent, but the chances of white-knuckle severe turbulence, which causes injuries as passengers and luggage are thrown about, will double by 2050.
Dr Paul Williams, whose study is published in the journal Advances in Atmospheric Sciences, said: ‘Our new study paints the most detailed picture yet of how aircraft turbulence will respond to climate change.
‘For most passengers, light turbulence is nothing more than an annoying inconvenience, but for nervous fliers even light turbulence can be distressing.
‘Even the most seasoned frequent fliers may be alarmed at the prospect of a 100 per cent increase in severe turbulence, which frequently hospitalises air travellers and flight attendants around the world.’
On US flights alone, more than 50 air crew and passengers are seriously injured a year by turbulence. It is caused when bodies of air moving at dramatically different speeds meet. The jet stream, a ribbon of strong winds around the globe, is the most important of these bodies.
Dr Williams said: ‘The best way to describe it is to imagine a river, which has little turbulence when it is not flowing quickly. But when there is a downpour, it starts flowing rapidly. The equivalent of that downpour is climate change, which is increasing the temperature difference between the pole and tropics which the jet stream covers and making it faster and more violent.’