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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
Since arriving on the island of Guam in the 1940s, the brown tree snake ( Boiga irregularis ) has extirpated native...
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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ScienceShot: Climate Change Will Boost Plane Turbulence
8 April 2013 10:00 am
Get used to a bumpy ride. The strength and frequency of atmospheric turbulence affecting transatlantic flights will increase by midcentury, a new study suggests. Researchers used a global climate model to assess the intensity of clear-air turbulence—the kind that stems from wind shear. In particular, the researchers assessed the intensity of turbulence at a point in the future when carbon dioxide concentrations are twice the levels they were before human industrial activity began boosting them substantially—which, according to a middle-of-the-road emissions scenario, will likely occur sometime in the 2050s. For their analysis, they simulated atmospheric conditions at an altitude of about 12 kilometers (a typical cruise altitude for airliners) in the northern portion of the North Atlantic, a region that includes most transatlantic routes. During winter months, when clear-air turbulence is at its worst in that area, 16 of the 21 often-used ways in which scientists measure turbulence suggest that the average intensity of the plane-rattling phenomenon (image depicts turbulence intensity on a random winter day) will be between 10% and 40% stronger when CO2 concentrations are double their preindustrial value, the researchers report online today in Nature Climate Change. Accordingly, the frequency of moderate-or-greater turbulence—intensities at which passengers will experience accelerations of 0.5 g or more, which are strong enough to toss items about the cabin—will rise by between 40% and 170%. As a result of pilots needing to dodge strong turbulence, flight paths will become longer, and fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions will increase—possibly leading to even more turbulence. Hold on tight.
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