Recent Rise in Turbulence Shakes Up Travelers

By: Serenity Holland 

Turbulence is skyrocketing in a way that is unleashing fear for future flights. Recent incidents of extreme turbulence have flooded the media and travelers are becoming apprehensive. Social media users have claimed this phenomenon is rooted in climate change.

Flying has become one of the most popular and convenient ways of travel. With this, planes are constantly in the sky, increasing the chance of turbulence and its intensity.

Mt. Hebron senior and future pilot Kendall Swift has already started to gather experience of what air travel is and what life behind the wheel is like.

“I have certain weather minimums I’m able to fly with. ” I typically don’t fly when a lot of turbulence is likely,” she explains. “However, I have experienced multiple pockets of turbulence while in the air.”

While the likelihood of a plane crash remains minimal, the frequency of turbulence is only increasing due to climate change. Recently, a Southwest flight had to abort the landing and a Hawaiian airlines flight injured 25 passengers.

On a scale from 1-10 (10 being the most scared), Mt. Hebron senior Alyssa Plooksawaski rated her fear of traveling on a plane a three.

“I’m pretty calm on planes because there’s no point in panicking when you can’t control what’s happening,” Plooksawaski stated.

Swift had a similar opinion.”Honestly, there’s not much you can really do since turbulence is safe, but it is something that comes scary to the majority of people. When me and my instructor experience it, we usually just make it a fun time rather than something we need to worry about,” says Swift.

However, in some cases, air turbulence can be quite dangerous. Most notably, clear air turbulence marks the top of the list because it is undetectable. When the direction and intensity of the wind change at a sudden rate, it becomes an issue you cannot warn passengers about.

In this upper-level jet stream where most planes fly, greenhouse gasses trap heat in the troposphere while cooler air is in the stratosphere. These two layers increase the temperature gradient and create more unstable wind flow leading to clear air turbulence.

It is predicted that new technology will be made to detect clear-air turbulence to prevent it from doubling by 2050. In the meantime, there will not be any drastic changes to worry about.

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