Using aviation meteorology to improve aircraft safety

Mark Prosser, Prof. Paul Williams. Prof. Giles Harrison, Dr Graeme Marlton 

It is well known that aviation contributes to climate change through the release of greenhouse gases and other radiative effects but perhaps less well known is the fact that aviation itself is affected by climate change through a number of pathways, two of which are changes in aviation-affecting weather such as turbulence and lightning.

Clear-air turbulence (CAT) is already a problem for the aviation industry as it is hard to detect and forecast costing them $100s of millions and hospitalising passengers and crew each year. On top of this we have reason to believe that a warmer atmosphere and a more sheared jet-stream (a consequence of climate change) will lead to a more turbulent atmosphere so any improvement in our ability to understand where and when CAT occurs will be invaluable in improving the safety and comfort of flights both now and into the future. Lightning patterns are also likely to be affected and my PhD project centres around trying to clarify where and how these aviation affecting weather hazards are likely to change.