The Sciences

Airlines lobby to reopen European airspace closed by Eyjafjallajökull

Rocky Planet iconRocky PlanetBy Erik KlemettiApr 18, 2010 9:30 AM


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Some very quick notes on Eyjafjallajökull:

Eyjafjallajökull erupting at night on April 17/18, 2010, with impressive incandescent explosions.

European airlines are taking "test flights" to see the effect of the ash on their aircraft in hopes to convince EU officials to reopen airspace. Now, officials from KLM say that everything went fine in their test flight, but I haven't seen any details about flightplans, altitude and all the sorts of info you'd want to see if you want to believe these test flights are representative. However, the president of KLM does have a bit of a point in saying that this ash is not unprecedented in the world of aviation - volcanoes are erupting along Indonesia, Alaska, Japan, Kamchatka and elsewhere around the world without widespread problems. However, the key question is how similar is this eruption to those that occur around the world all the time - and at what timescales could ash concentration change in the air over Europe. One other thing I don't know - and maybe somebody out there does - do most commercial pilots get trained on ash avoidance? However, there is still no word on when all of European airspace will reopen - but we may see up to 50% of normal flights by Monday.

The eruption continues unabated as of this morning. The latest ash models show continuing ash over Europe according to the London VAAC and, for the first time, the potential of ash, although very minute and high, over Nova Scotia by Monday (potentially). We have some reports about the impact of the eruption on farmers in Iceland and the various inconveniences caused by the ash around the world.

NOTE: SO seems to be down ... hopefully the image will return! Surtseyan explosions at the crater on Eyjafjallajökull taken on April 17, 2010. Image by Marco Fulle, courtesy of Stromboli Online.

Be sure to check out the comments sections from earlier posts for some great image collections - and this new one from Marco Fulle showing the crater on the glacier itself. The explosions look like textbook examples of Surtseyan explosions - but all the water involved is glacial meltwater (not seawater like at its namesake Surtsey). Amazing stuff!

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