Flights From London to New York May Get Longer
Thanks to climate change, say researchers
By Luke Roney,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 14, 2016 8:01 AM CST

(Newser) – Planning a round trip from New York to London in the not-too-distant future? The good news: Getting to Heathrow may be quicker than ever at about five hours. The bad news: The flight back to the Big Apple could drag on for more than seven hours, making the overall trip longer. That's what researchers with the University of Reading predict in a new study that examines the effect of climate change on the jet stream, Phys.org reports. The high-altitude wind that blows west to east across the Atlantic Ocean is closely related to atmospheric temperatures, study lead Paul Williams says in a video. "Therefore, the winds are changing in response to the temperature changes." More specifically, the jet stream will become 15% faster, according to the study published this month in Environmental Research Letters.

It all adds up for aircraft making the trip across the pond and back—some 600 flights daily. The BBC says the average time difference will be only "a few minutes each way," but it's the cumulative effect that researchers are worried about—it amounts to an extra 2,000 hours a year in the air, adding about $22 million to fuel costs and increasing CO2 emissions by 70 million kilograms. In 2013, Williams led a study predicting that transatlantic flights would become bumpier thanks to climate change, making for uncomfortable flights or longer flights as pilots burn fuel trying to avoid turbulence. This new study looks only at transatlantic flights, meaning it's "possible that flights elsewhere in the world will also suffer from a similar jet stream effect," says Williams. (You could soon fly from the East Coast to Europe for $69.)