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May 17, 2010 / Dave Gorham

Iceland Volcanoes: Perhaps VERY Long-Term Effects?

The Eyjafjall volcano continues to erupt to 23,000 feet, occasionally 26,000-29,000 feet, with mid-level winds allowing for some ash to reach into parts of the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Gray shaded areas represent where there is a high risk for volcanic ash. Image: ImpactWeather

 

The red lines represent where volcanic ash may be encountered from the surface up to 20,000 feet. The green dashed lines over parts of Iceland and Greenland represent the upper levels where volcanic ash may be found from 20,000 to 35,000 feet.  Image: UK Met Office

The latest information out of the UK Met Office is that there are a few no-fly zones today which include Scottish Control, Netherlands, BIRD (Iceland), Shanwick Oceanic airspace and Irish airspace. Of course, pilots need to check the latest NOTAMS for the most current and up-to-date information. It appears that London airspace is now back to normal operations after Gatwick did not accept incoming flights until 11:40 am local time. London Heathrow, which is one of the world’s busiest airports, could still likely see delays and cancellations due to restrictions.

 

Ash could continue to affect the UK and possibly other parts of central Europe through Tuesday before winds change direction. No one knows just how long the volcano will continue to erupt, but scientists do think it could go on for quite some time, maybe even a year or so like it did back in 1820. To make matters worse Eyjafjall may be just a precursor to many more major eruptions from Katla, Hekla, Gimsvotn and Askja, which are all explosive volcanoes. All of the previously mentioned volcanoes are a lot stronger than Eyjafjall and they seem to work in tandem based on studies dating back to the 9th century. In the late 1700’s, so much ash was ejected into the atmosphere from Grimsvotn that it resulted in rapidly falling temperatures across the Northern Hemisphere, famine and perhaps even the French Revolution due to massive starvation. If these volcanoes are springing back to life, we may be dealing with them for decades if not for the rest of our lives.

 

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