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Turbulence

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Turbulence is referred to the up and down air currents that mix up the air in the troposphere.  While on a flight, these air currents feel like bumps in the road. A number of reasons have been given to explain these occurrences. In definition thermal turbulence is the type of atmospheric turbulence that results from convection currents (Peter 68). It is generated in the boundary layer just as mechanical turbulence. It is as a result of rising thermals of air generated by surface heating. When the surface heating becomes maximized, thermal turbulence also maximizes.

Mechanical turbulence, on the other hand, is as a result of an aircraft encountering strong winds, which blow over irregular terrains. It occurs near the ground at below four thousand feet. It usually affects take off and landing. In order to avoid it after take off, the pilot can steepen the angle at which the airplane is climbing. On landing, he or she can decrease the speed of the aircraft (Reif 58).

The other type is convective turbulence, it occurs mostly during the day. The sun heats up the earth, then the earth heats up the overlying air. The degree of the air hotness will determine the bumpiness of the turbulence. Turbulence can be signified by white convective or cumulus clouds. So, pilots should be watchful of these clouds.

Orographic turbulence, on the other hand, occurs when strong winds blow perpendicularly to a mountain range. This will then cause a mountain wave. Pilots should avoid the bumpier air of the downwind side or climb over it. Frontal turbulence is turbulence caused by a sudden change in the direction of the wind due to a weather front. The latest weather chart should tell the pilots the location of these fronts and the speed they move at.

Jetsteams are defined as rivers of air existing in high altitudes approximately thirteen kilometers above the earth’s surface. They are as a result of two unlike masses of air which are of different temperatures adjacent to each other. There occurs a pressure change at the meeting point of these masses. Wind is eventually formed; high pressure air that flows into low pressure. This wind will then result in a steam as a result of the Coriolis force. The steams are the ones responsible for all sorts of turbulence.

Clear Air Turbulence is turbulence that happens as a result of the air that is being disrupted around a jet steam. The jet steam, the centre most area, can reach speeds of up to 255 mph. The edges outside, on the other hand, have approximately 55 mph. So, air pockets are in between the layers moving from the fast area to the slower one. The pockets are the ones that can cause a plane to drop suddenly up to about 15 feet.

In the case of wake turbulence, the wings of an airplane can cause spirals of air behind them that can cause turbulence fro a short while. Windshear comes as a result of cold air descending swiftly (Davidson 50-57). At the same time, warm air rises to the point where there is hardly any left below the cold air. The cold air drops to the ground and splashes to produce surface winds. This can make landing or take off somehow difficult.

Wake intensities are influenced by a number of things; the weight of the airplane, the speed and angle of attack and lastly the wing configuration. The atmospheric conditions have an effect on the length of the wake. It should also be noted that the wingspan and weight of an airplane have a strong influence in the magnitude of the wake. With two aircrafts of the same weight but different wingspan the one with the smaller wingspan needs to generate more lift and the result will be a stronger wake (Tennekes 35).

Turbulence should not be made to look like an accident about to happen. It is advisable to keep seat belts fastened at all times while in flight. Passengers who are afraid of flight should keep calm and know that pilots and the air crews are well trained to deal with turbulences. They get weather information from various trusted sources. People should just imagine that they are in a car and what they experience looks like a road bump.

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