Flying across the Pacific could become longer and more costly because of climate change

Ricardo Brazziell-Pool/Getty Images

Changes to winds over the Pacific caused by climate change could increase flight times and fuel use, say scientists.

The researchers looked at flights between Honolulu and Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle and found changes in winds predicted to occur as a result of climate change would cost an extra $1.4 million in fuel.

Extrapolating that to the rest of the world would mean an increase in total human CO2 emissions of 0.03%.

Kristopher Karnauskas of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and colleagues analysed the difference in flight time for roughly 250,000 flights and compared them with daily winds at cruising altitude.

They then calculated the response of these winds to greenhouse gas increases using 34 global climate models.

The researchers calculated that such a change would result in about 5.5 additional flying hours per daily round trip.

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