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Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Another Eyjafjallajökull?

© BBC
Just a little over a year ago Iceland's Eyjafjallajökull Volcano famously erupted and although was considered relatively small in comparison to previous in the area, caused significant travel disruption to thousands of people around the world.

According to the BBC the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull last caused the worst disruption and lead to the largest Eurpoean air travel closure since World War II. About 20 countries closed their airspace and 10 million travellers were affected. The was down to large quantities of volcanic ash lying on the ground coupled with strone surface winds which ultimately lead to poor visibility. Due to the volcano's location being directly under the jet stream this meant ash was blown for huge distances at upper levels affecting international airspace.


Flights across Europe were cancelled for six days and, according to The Independent, were estimated to have cost airlines £130 million a day. However, in terms of pollution, and all you eco warriors out there will love this, it was reported that European flights alone avioded approximately 344,109 tonnes of CO2 emissions a day whilst the volcano only emitted about 150,000 tonnes of CO2 per day.

Well that was a year ago and believe it or not it's happening again just in time for the holiday season! According to The Independent the Grímsvötn Volcano, in Vatnajokull National Park, began erupting on Saturday 21sy May 2011 which caused flights at Iceland's main airport to be cancelled due to a large plume of ash, smoke and steam 12 miles high entering the atmosphere.

© Getty Images
A Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) spokesperson has confirmed that they are in a much better position than last time. He said safety will still be paramount but the level of disruption will be dramatically reduced from last year, provided there is not a huge amount of high density ash cloud. The spokesperson also said a similar level of ash to last year would not result in the same level of disruption. So fingers crossed it should cause too much disruption.


This time round the ash is a lot coarser and falling to the ground quicker therefore, in order to have the same impact as the Eyjafjallajökull eruption last year a more explosive eruption would be needed to propel the ash as far as last year. If you want to take a look at the scientific data a little bit more take a look at the British Geological Survey’s website its really interesting!
Flights over the UK were suspended briefly yesterday and thousands of passengers were affected by the ash cloud. However, most flights in the UK have now resumed because the concentrations of ash are thought to have dispersed.
Although the volcano has officially stopped erupting the ash cloud still continues to travel and as such, according to the BBC, ash may return to the UK airspace on Friday so further flights may be disrupted. A CAA spokesperson stated that we are expected to be at risk of a high concentration of ash covering most of the UK. This obviously is not good news for anyone wishing to travel in the immediate future.
I just can’t help but think is this Mother Nature’s way of telling us to stop using airplanes and reduce our carbon footprint? After the year we have had already I can only assume that Mother Nature is fighting back!
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