Block title

-

Surfing the Jetstream reduces radiation exposure

- Advertisment -
Surfing the Jetstream reduces radiation exposure

Climate change is revving up the jet stream, the river of air which meanders around the North Pole. It is quickening, propelling planes across the north Atlantic at record speed. On 8 February 2020 British Airlines Flight 112 rocketed from New York to London in 4 hours 56 minutes, at one point traveling faster than 1328 km per hour.

 

Writing on SpaceWeather.com, Dr Tony Philips asks the question “Why do we care?” We do, because airplanes surfing the jet stream absorb significantly less cosmic radiation. Researchers have long known that air travellers are exposed to cosmic rays. At typical cruising altitudes, passengers absorb 50 to 100 times more radiation than they would at sea level. This has led the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) to classify pilots and flight attendants as occupational radiation workers.

 

By shortening flights, the jet stream can reduce radiation exposure. Passengers onboard the record-setting British Airways flight spent an hour less at cruising altitude and, according to the models, absorbed about 30% less radiation. Two Virgin Atlantic flights following close on the heels of the British Airways Dreamliner had similar results.

 

Spaceweather.com and the students of Earth to Sky Calculus have travel around the world, launching cosmic ray balloons to map earth’s radiation environment. Balloons with sensors travel from ground level to the stratosphere and bring their data back to Earth by parachute.

These conclusions are based on E-RAD, an empirical model for aviation radiation. Since 2015, Spaceweather.com and the students of Earth to Sky Calculus have been collecting X-ray, gamma-ray, and neutron radiation data onboard airplanes. The current database contains more than 25,000 radiation measurements gathered while flying over 27 countries, 5 continents, and 2 oceans. E-RAD uses these measurements to predict dose rates on any flight.

Dr Philips applied E-RAD to British Airways Flight 112 on several dates in February, comparing dosages on 8 February when the plane surfed the jet stream, to nearby dates when it didn’t. Surfing the jet stream shaved as much as 10 uSv of radiation off the total dose, a reduction equivalent to almost 1 dental X-ray.

Gain one loose one 

An active fast-moving jet stream is often filled with turbulence, making flights miserable for passengers. Planes dodging the rough air can increase their flight times, boosting cosmic ray exposure instead of reducing it. Passengers returning to New York from London must cross the Atlantic against the jet stream. Their flights will be slower, increasing exposure-time to cosmic rays.

If you are a frequent flyer maybe you should consider investing in a spacesuit!

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Latest articles

SiC MOSFETs with high switching speeds

New N-channel devices offer compelling array of characteristics  RS Components (RS) now stocks ON Semiconductor’s latest 1200V-rated MOSFETs. Based on silicon-carbide (SiC) technology, these power...

Qorvo CMD328K3 low cost alternative to hybrid amplifiers

Qorvo’s CMD328K3 is ideally suited for EW and communications systems where small size and low power consumption are needed. The broadband device delivers greater...

Adapting the supply chain to the ‘new normal’

“It is prudent for the supply chain, particularly in the Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) industry, to embrace the ‘new normal”, says Andrew Dawson, MD...

Why is local no longer lekker?

At the end of every year, analysts make predictions about the state of the industry the following year. While 2020 has brought many unexpected...

Rechargeable solid-state battery for intrinsically safe IoT devices

RS Components (RS) is now stocking CeraCharge, the industry’s first rechargeable solid-state SMD battery from TDK. Small, easy to assemble and intrinsically safe, CeraCharge...

Teraco keeping African Traffic in Africa

Andrew Owens, peering and interconnection specialist at Teraco Data Environments, joined Hans van de Groenendaal, editor of Engineer IT, to virtually discuss a number...
- Advertisement -

5G private networks boost industrial productivity?

Consumers may think 5G means faster downloads, but industry stands to gain real financial benefits from other key features of the latest mobile network...

Optimising cathodic protection systems for hazardous environment

Cathodic protection (CP) is a critical tool when it comes to combatting corrosion in crucial infrastructure. However, what considerations must you make when using...

Analysis determines we are in Solar Cycle 25

The solar minimum between Solar Cycle 24 and 25 - the period when the sun is least active - happened in December 2019, when...

When to choose an RF limiter or attenuator

Both RF limiters and attenuators reduce the power of an RF signal. However, they do so in different ways that are key to understanding...

High-speed interconnects for fast signalling applications

The new range offers a space-saving, flexible design and optimised Edge Rate® contacts for enhanced signal integrity  RS Components (RS), is now stocking the AcceleRate...