By Sarah Begley
October 4, 2017

Climate-related travel issues aren’t just limited to natural disasters — in the coming decades, climate change could cause much greater rates of severe turbulence on flights, researchers found.

According to a new study published Tuesday in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, global warming could increase severe turbulence during flights because of greater rates of wind instabilities at high altitudes. This would make rough pockets much more commonplace, CNBC reports.

The result would be higher rates of severe turbulence around the world by 2050 to 2080. At an altitude of 39,000 feet, severe turbulence would increase by 181% over the North Atlantic, 161% over Europe, 113% over North America, 92% over the North Pacific, 64% percent over Asia, 62% over South America, 53% over Australia and 51% over Africa, the researchers say.

“While turbulence does not usually pose a major danger to flights, it is responsible for hundreds of passenger injuries every year,” said Luke Storer, a PhD researcher who worked on the study. “It is also by far the most common cause of serious injuries to flight attendants. Turbulence is thought to cost United States air carriers up to $200 million annually.”

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