CLOSE
iStock
iStock

Airplane Turbulence Could Get Much Worse in Coming Decades

iStock
iStock

People who get nervous over turbulence during air travel should probably feel fortunate they don’t have to worry about what might be coming later this century. According to a new study from the Department of Meteorology at the University of Reading, the roller coaster sensation in passenger planes could see up to a 149 percent increase.

The paper, which was published in Advances in Atmospheric Sciences, identifies climate change as the culprit. With increased levels of CO2 in the atmosphere, planes will have a more difficult time with the vertical wind shears that create resistance and destabilize an aircraft. Study author Paul Williams estimated that light turbulence, which is common, could see a 59 percent increase; drink-spilling moderate turbulence up to a 94 percent increase; and heavy turbulence a 149 percent increase.

Although turbulence rarely results in serious injury today—according to one study, just 24 passengers and crew were injured in 2013 out of the 826 million travelers who flew that year, though the researchers of the current study cite data documenting higher rates in different years—a marked change in frequency could conceivably lead to more accidents, particularly with unbelted passengers and loose luggage.

Williams used a computer simulation to measure the effects of turbulence on planes traveling at 39,000 feet when there is twice as much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, a change that could occur by the end of the century. The paper speculates that onboard turbulence detection software might assist a plane in avoiding problem areas.

[h/t Popular Mechanics]

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
Health
Watch a Tree Release a Massive "Pollen Bomb" Into the Air
iStock
iStock

In case your itchy, watery eyes hadn't already tipped you off, spring is in the air. Some trees release up to a billion pollen grains apiece each year, and instead of turning into baby trees, many of those spores end up in the noses of allergy sufferers. For a visual of just how much pollen is being released into our backyards, check out the video below spotted by Gothamist.

This footage was captured by Millville, New Jersey resident Jennifer Henderson while her husband was clearing away brush with a backhoe. He noticed one tree was blanketed in pollen, and decided to bump into it to see what would happen. The result was an explosion of plant matter dramatic enough to make you sniffle just by looking at it.

"Pollen bombs" occur when the weather starts to warm up after a prolonged winter, prompting trees and grasses to suddenly release a high concentration of pollen in a short time span. Wind, temperature, and humidity levels all determine the air's pollen count for any given day, but allergy season settles down around May.

After determining that your congestion is the result of allergies and not a head cold, there are a few steps you can take to stave off symptoms before they appear. Keep track of your area's pollen report throughout the week, and treat yourself with antihistamines or nasal spray on days when you know it will be particularly bad outside. You can also keep your home a pollen-free zone by closing all the windows and investing in an air purifier. Check out our full list of seasonal allergy-fighting tips here.

[h/t Gothamist]

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
environment
The UK Wants to Ban Wet Wipes, And Parents Aren't Happy About It
iStock
iStock

The United Kingdom has grown determined in recent years to reduce consumption of single-use products that pollute the environment. In April, fast food restaurant fans were dismayed to hear that plastic drinking straws are being phased out; plastic cotton swabs are also on the chopping block. Now, users of wet wipes that remove makeup and clean infant bottoms are looking at a future where reaching for one of the disposable cloths may not be so easy.

The BBC reports that wet wipes containing non-biodegradable plastic are being targeted for elimination in the coming years. The wipes contribute to “fatbergs,” giant impactions of waste that can slow or block movement in sewage systems. By some estimates, 93 percent of blockages are caused by consumers flushing the wet wipes into toilets despite package instructions to throw them in the garbage.

Not everyone is backing the move, however. Jeremy Freedman, who manufactures the wipes under the name Guardpack, says that the wipes are useful to health care workers and food preparation employees. He argues their use also conserves water normally reserved for handwashing.

The most vocal critics might be parents, who use the wipes to clean their baby’s bottom following a diaper change. Sentiments like “ban the fools that flush them!” are circulating on Twitter. The UK is looking to phase out the wipes and other problematic plastic products over the next 25 years.

[h/t BBC]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios