Lane, Todd School of Earth Sciences, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia.
Sharman, Robert Research Applications Laboratory, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado.
- Gravity waves
- An example turbulence event
- Observing the hazard
- Ongoing research
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
Turbulence is a well-known hazard to the aviation sector. It is responsible for numerous injuries each year, with occasional fatalities, and it is the underlying cause of many people's fear of air travel. Not only are encounters with turbulence a safety issue, but they are the source of millions of dollars of operational costs to airlines, with the increased costs being passed on to the consumer. For these reasons, pilots, dispatchers, and air-traffic controllers attempt to avoid turbulence wherever possible. A common method of avoidance involves circumventing regions or altitudes where turbulence was recently encountered by other aircraft. Empirical rules are also used to identify weather patterns known to be conducive to the generation of turbulence; pilots employ these rules during flight, and operational weather forecasters on the ground also provide guidance. However, these methods are imprecise, and recent research into turbulence generation processes, by thunderstorms especially, is laying the foundation for improving methods of strategic turbulence forecasting and tactical turbulence avoidance.
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