Air travel could soon become a lot more difficult thanks to one environmental factor

394270 04: Planes sit on the tarmac at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), which is closed because of the air attacks on New York and Washington, DC, September 11, 2001, in Los Angeles, CA. All four of the hijacked commercial airliners used in the apparent suicide crashes were bound for California, three of them for Los Angeles. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

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Heat waves associated with rising global temperatures may soon make air travel more difficult.

When air warms, its density drops, affecting how much lift the air can generate as it rushes across a plane’s wings. More lift means a plane needs a longer runway in order to safely ascend into the sky.

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Lack of a long enough runway could lead to flight delays and cancellations when the weather gets too hot. That happened last month in Phoenix, where temperatures hit 120 degrees. Many aircraft, such as the ones operated by American Airlines, can operate at a maximum temperatures of 118 degrees.

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