LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Some scientists believe air turbulence will get worse over the next few years.
Travelers Sandy Fain and Tiffany Albright said their latest flight into Burbank this week was a bit terrifying.
“Dropping, bumping. It was pretty bad. The whole descent was a nightmare,” Fain said.
“It really felt, when we were going down, like we were on a carnival ride, but it was free,” Albright added.
Recently, a flight attendant on a Southwest flight to Denver was knocked to the floor after being thrown around because of bumpy air.
Two months ago, a United flight from Denver to Montana sent several passengers to the hospital as a result of severe turbulence.
Nine people were injured on a Cathay Pacific flight from San Francisco to Hong Kong when the plane was rocked mid-air.
KCAL9’s Bobby Kaple reported that increases in carbon dioxide have caused more volatility in the jet streams.
“You’re gonna get more difference in the wind speeds, and you are going to have a greater incidence of turbulence. Stronger turbulence, more incidents of severe turbulence,” Frank Colby, a professor of meteorology at UMass Lowell, said.
One specific kind of turbulence is known as clear air—it can’t be detected, which is what makes it so dangerous.
“It’s very abrupt and sudden. You can drop 100 to 200 feet in the matter of a second,” said Steve Cunningham, who trains pilots.
Another type of turbulence is known as mountain wave turbulence, where the air rolls off the mountains, creating bumpy pockets.
Pilots routinely try to avoid turbulence by climbing to different altitudes and then dropping back down. As a result, the jet uses more fuel. Experts said plane tickets could cost more in the future if the trend continues.