Page last updated at 12:25 GMT, Monday, 6 October 2008 13:25 UK

Air turbulence tests 'improved'

Plane
Dr Williams hopes the technique will be used by the aviation industry

A more accurate way of predicting air turbulence for aeroplanes has been developed by researchers.

Dr Paul Williams, from the University of Reading, was part of a global team of academics who have developed a new forecasting technique.

Dr Williams said clear-air turbulence can strike suddenly, causing damage to planes and injury to passengers.

The new method predicts energy associated with gravity waves in the atmosphere around jet streams.

The type of gravity wave the team has identified as a possible source of bumpiness is generated around jet streams of fast moving air at high altitudes, near cruising levels for aeroplanes.

'Smoother flights'

The new forecasting technique differs from the current methods because it is based on a mathematical model of the actual physical process.

The study claims weather forecasters struggle to predict where and when clear-air turbulence will strike as it happens away from any obvious severe weather, like thunderstorms, and so is hard for pilots to avoid.

Dr Williams said: "Our new method for predicting clear-air turbulence significantly outperforms the approach used currently, which dates back to the 1960s.

"I hope it can be used operationally as soon as possible, and that it leads to smoother flights and a reduction in human injuries and aeroplane damage."

The research has been published in the Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences.


RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific