A plane in flight. © 123RF
A plane in flight. © 123RF

Global warming effect on transatlantic flights will cost $22m

19 February 2016

Global warning will make transatlantic flights take so much longer that aircraft making the crossing will be airborne for an extra 2,000 hours per year in total, according to research from the University of Reading.

This will cost $22m in fuel and lead to an extra 70m kg of carbon dioxide being emitted - equivalent to the annual emissions of 7,100 average UK homes, the research found.

The effects of global warming on jet stream winds mean that flights from the US to Europe will be quicker while those heading in the opposite direction will be significantly slower.

But the two effects do not cancel each other out and the overall time of round trips is likely to increase, even if there is no growth in aviation.

Transatlantic flights attempt to take advantage of high altitude jet stream winds to help shorten journey times.

The study, which appears in the journal Environmental Research Letters, suggested that the changes will lead to the consumption of an extra 7.2m gallons of jet fuel.

The authors said more research was needed to study the effect of atmospheric changes on other routes, such as transpacific, transpolar, and cross-equatorial flights.

Other impacts of climate change on aviation are likely to be intensified turbulence and increased take-off weight restrictions.

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