Earth’s warming climate is going to have a costly impact on the fuel consumption of airplanes.
The reason has to do with air density. Research published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society shows planes will burn more fuel by having to fly faster to overcome thinner air attributed to a warmer atmosphere.
Lift produced by aircraft wings is less effective in warmer air, which means planes must increase speed and burn more fuel to maintain carrying capacity.
This disadvantage counteracts any fuel advantages of flying in thinner air.
Drag is another impact weighing planes down. It’s caused by extra molecules of water evaporated into the warming atmosphere.
Planes fight harder to cruise through the air, requiring additional fuel.
Scientists used a combination of 34 climate models to project that fuel costs by the end of the century could be an extra 160 million gallons per year equating to an additional cost of $1 billion per year if fossil fuel use stays the same.
The authors provide convincing evidence that reducing climate warming can increase fuel efficiency while reducing damaging environmental impacts.