Everyone is missing the point about jet engines freezing up unexpectedly which The Australian gave a bit of a workout this morning.
A hotter world actually means colder jets which means even more problems for air transport than social engineers racking up massive frequent flyer points trooping around the world lecturing the masses on the evils of air travel.
This is because the greenhouse effect confines radiant heat to the lower atmosphere, and thereby deprives the upper atmosphere, where jets fly, of the heating value of all of that energy being reradiated back into space.
It is the anti-jetsetter’s best news since the invention of hand-held lasers.
The high level freezing caused by global warming is making jets “cough” and even fall to earth, as illustrated by the crash landing of a British Airways 777 just short of a Heathrow London runway on 17 January.
Severe upper atmosphere cooling has long been predicted by the global warming models. The aircraft and engine makers thought they were immune until a few years ago when weird things began happening to some long distance high altitude flights.
One long range Airbus was reported as making a trans-polar flight from America to Asia “trapped” at 29,000 feet, which is too low for optimum fuel economy, yet if it had flown higher the temperatures would have reduced the available fuel by turning some of it to jelly.
Other jets began making costly diversions or turn backs near the north pole sometimes landing at very expensive Siberian outposts like Irkutsk and Anadyr as they sought warmer air but paid for it by having to top up their tanks.
Curiously, neither Airbus nor Boeing have yet published comprehensive data on how stratospheric air temperatures have declined in recent decades. But older pilots claim there are plenty of records taken during flights to show declines of as much as 20 C, which means if a jet works well at –47 C it may not work as expected at –67C, or the –75C experienced for hours on end by the British Airways jet before its engines failed to respond as intended before it fell short of its runway after a long idle throttle fuel saving descent to the airport.
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The cynical, and perhaps correct explanation for this could be furious behind the scenes work with the engine makers to come up with procedures to continuously circulate fuel between tanks to prevent it turning to slush, and measures to heat out fine particles of previously undetectable atmospheric ice being sucked into those parts of the engines that aren’t normally hot when working.
In fact the cold jet-hot world problem might include the ingestion of particles of dry ice or solid carbon dioxide where the air is so cold this phenomenon could occur naturally.