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For the last few decades scientists have warned governments about climate change and the less obvious consequences of a warmer planet. So far we know that icy landscapes will melt, sea levels will rise, dry hot regions will become drier and hotter still, super storms like Sandy will become more intense, and the list goes on. Now The Guardian reports that disruptions to the jet stream that prolonged this year’s winter will cause increased cases of turbulence for flights between Europe and North America, with incidents expected to double at intensities that could increase by as much as 40 percent by 2050.

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The major jet streams on Earth flow from west to east on a meandering path that a warmer planet has already begun to shift. Writing in the journal Nature Climate Change, researchers warned that increased intensity and frequency of air turbulence could result in many flights being re-routed, which could come with even greater environmental and financial cost.

“Clear-air turbulence is especially problematic to airliners, because it is invisible to pilots and satellites,” said Manoj Joshi at the University of East Anglia, who also worked on the new study,” The Guardian reports.

Lead researcher Paul Williams from the University of Reading explained that the jet streams which travel for thousands of miles are influenced by the temperature discrepancy between the north and south poles and the tropics.

Climate change is heating the Arctic faster than lower latitudes, because of the rapid loss of reflective sea ice, so the temperature difference is growing,” he said. “That leads to stronger jet streams and greater turbulence.”

He added that turbulence across North America and Europe may have already increased by up to 90 percent in the last half century. More than just an inconvenience, the damage wrought by turbulence currently costs roughly £100m per year – costs that will surely rise as hotter days wear on.

Via The Guardian