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What Causes Turbulence

Many of us have experienced turbulence whilst flying in an airplane. The plane can be flying along smoothly and then suddenly be lurching around and shuddering. Just as suddenly the turbulence can stop and the flight returns to a peacefully smooth ride. Many of us are left wondering what the cause of the turbulence was and whether we will encounter more. This article will explain what causes turbulence on those otherwise smooth flights.

What Causes Turbulence?
One of the most amazing things about turbulence is that is can occur when the sky is clear. There are a number of causes for turbulence and each type can cause a different level of turbulence. Most turbulence is caused by changes in atmospheric pressure. High and low pressure areas within the atmosphere can cause the plane to feel as though it is going through a bumpy patch. The sun heats the air in the atmosphere causing these pockets to develop. The heated air rises whilst cooler air sinks. These pockets of air push and pull on the airplane causing it to change altitudes quickly.

Jet-streams are another cause of turbulence. These are shafts or currents of air that are moving very quickly. They can cause disturbances in the air around them causing turbulence. This is similar to a wake produced by a ship at sea. The wake ripples out away from the ship’s path creating turbulence in the surrounding water.

Mountains can also cause the air in the surrounding atmosphere to be turbulent. The air passing over and around the mountain causes turbulence when it collides with one another. This is often why turbulence is experiences when flying over or landing in a particularly mountainous area.

Storm activity can also cause in flight turbulence, if a plane need to fly through or near an area of unpredictable weather there is often turbulence. Most pilots will request that passengers say in their seats during this time.

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