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Aviation turbulence: dynamics, forecasting, and response to climate change

Storer, L. N., Williams, P. D. and Gill, P. G. (2019) Aviation turbulence: dynamics, forecasting, and response to climate change. Pure and Applied Geophysics, 176 (5). pp. 2081-2095. ISSN 0033-4553

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1007/s00024-018-1822-0

Abstract/Summary

Atmospheric turbulence is a major hazard in the aviation industry and can cause injuries to passengers and crew. Understanding the physical and dynamical generation mechanisms of turbulence aids with the development of new forecasting algorithms and, therefore, reduces the impact that it has on the aviation industry. The scope of this paper is to review the dynamics of aviation turbulence, its response to climate change, and current forecasting methods at the cruising altitude of aircraft. Aviation-affecting turbulence comes from three main sources: vertical wind shear instabilities, convection, and mountain waves. Understanding these features helps researchers to develop better turbulence diagnostics. Recent research suggests that turbulence will increase in frequency and strength with climate change, and therefore, turbulence forecasting may become more important in the future. The current methods of forecasting are unable to predict every turbulence event, and research is ongoing to find the best solution to this problem by combining turbulence predictors and using ensemble forecasts to increase skill. The skill of operational turbulence forecasts has increased steadily over recent decades, mirroring improvements in our understanding. However, more work is needed—ideally in collaboration with the aviation industry—to improve observations and increase forecast skill, to help maintain and enhance aviation safety standards in the future.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > NCAS
Faculty of Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:76004
Publisher:Springer

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