Another volcanic eruption
May 22nd, 2011 by elisa

Air travellers will be groaning at the news that another Icelandic volcano has erupted this weekend, sending a plume of smoke and ash 12 miles into the air and blocking out the sun for a time.

Grimsvoetn is Iceland’s most active volcano set at the heart of the country’s biggest glacier. The eruption started on Saturday and if it continues at the same rate the ash cloud could reach parts of Scotland and Northern England by Tuesday, progressing to France and Spain as early as Thursday. The predictions are based on the latest 5-day weather forecasts but should be viewed with caution as the prevailing air currents could change.

No disruption is expected to European or transatlantic airspace over the next 24 hours at the time of writing.

Almost exactly a year ago 34 countries shut their airspace after the Eyjafjallajökull volcano erupted as there were fears that fine ash particles could cause jet engines to stop. It was the largest closure since the Second World War and millions of passengers were affected.

Gunnar Gudmundsson, of Iceland’s Meteorological Office, said: “I don’t expect this will have the same effect as Eyjafjoell volcano because the ash is not as fine.”

However, he acknowledged that other countries could be affected if weather patterns change.

Einar Kjartansson, a geophysicist at Iceland’s Met Office, warned: “If the eruption lasts for a long time we could be seeing similar effects as seen with Eyjafjallajökull last year.”

The Civil Aviation Authority are more positive with a spokesperson saying: “It’s early days and we’re keeping an eye on the situation but at the moment the weather patterns are looking pretty favourable.

“It’s the kind of situation that can change very quickly but we’d be very unlucky to be affected again as the winds normally would take this kind of problem away from us.

“The only problem passengers are likely to have is if you’re going to Iceland.”


More ash to come?
Nov 1st, 2010 by jason

The Icelandic eruption that caused travel misery for millions of airline passengers in April could be just a hiccup compared with the potential impact of a bigger eruption, an Icelandic expert has warned.

At its peak in mid-April, the Eyjafjallajökull volcano caused the cancellation of more than 100,000 flights, affecting eight million passengers. But there could be worse to come, vulcanologist Haraldur Sigurdsson told a conference to discuss how to improve coordination of the global response to another eruption. Each of the eruptions of Eyjafjallajökull in 920, 1612, and 1821-1823 was followed by an eruption of its larger neighbour Katla. If the same thing happens this time, Katla is likely to send up massive plumes of ash.

Nancy Graham, the director of the International Civil Aviation Organisation, called for new scientific standards to judge whether air space closure is necessary. Other speakers stressed the need for clear decision making if there is another eruption, calling for a ‘single European sky’ with air traffic in the whole of European airspace controlled by a single body.

While there isn’t much anyone can do about volcanic eruptions, it does make sense to check your travel insurance policy to see if it covers flight cancellations through volcanic activity.

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