News / Europe

Icelandic Ash Cloud Spreads, Snarls European Air Travel

Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull Volcano sent a plume of ash and steam across the North Atlantic, 15 Apr 2010
Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull Volcano sent a plume of ash and steam across the North Atlantic, 15 Apr 2010

Multimedia

Audio

A slowly spreading cloud of volcanic ash from Iceland is covering parts of Europe, shutting down air travel and stranding tens of thousands of passengers around the world. The cloud forced several northern European countries - including Britain, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark - to close their airspace, causing problems for thousands of Asian and U.S. travelers. Airports in Paris, Berlin, and Hamburg have been shut down.

Polish officials have closed the airspace in the northern part of the country. It is unclear how it will affect world leaders heading to Poland for Sunday's funeral for President Lech Kaczynski.

A volcanic eruption in Iceland sent a plume of ash into the atmosphere.  British airspace has been closed down for the first time since the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York.

"What we are seeing in Iceland is that as the magma particles get towards the surface, they interact with the very cold water and they chill to form glassy fragments and these glassy fragments are small, they have sharp edges and when those get up in the air that is what is causing the risk to aviation," says Colin Macpherson, a professor of Earth sciences at Britain's Durham University.

Aviation analysts say the sharp volcanic particles can damage a jet engine or cause it to shut down in mid air.  Macpherson says the disruption is due to a combination of things.

"It is not just a case of understanding the activity at the volcano itself, what we are also seeing the effect of at the moment are the prevailing weather conditions because we are in a northerly air stream at the moment and that is bringing the volcanic dust from Iceland down over the U.K. and hence the caution on behalf of the aviation authorities," he said.

Macpherson says the ash cloud is not unusual nor is the eruption of the volcano Eyjafjallajökull after 200 years of dormancy.

"Any substantial eruption of a volcano has a potential to do that over a short period of time.  By geological standards, this is not what we would call a big eruption," he said.

Macpherson says there is also no way of knowing whether there could be another eruption that could cause a similar ash cloud.

"Because there are only a couple of previous records of eruption at this particular volcano, it is difficult to judge either how long the activity will go on there, or how long the volcano might then  be dormant before it goes active again," he said.

Meteorologists and aviation authorities are monitoring wind direction and the ash cloud's movement from Iceland to determine where and when to shut down airspace in Europe.  There has also been extensive flooding in the southeastern part of Iceland as parts of a glacier were melted by the volcano.

You May Like

Photogallery US to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Expanded Ebola Effort

At US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Obama is to announce troop deployment, other details of US plans to fight Ebola outbreak More

Hong Kong Democracy Calls Spread to Macau

Macau and Hong Kong are China’s two 'special administrative regions' which gives them a measure of autonomy More

Kenyan Coastal Town Struggles With Deadly June Attacks

Three months after al-Shabab militants allegedly attacked their town, some Mpeketoni residents are still bitter, question who was really behind the assaults More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Communityi
X
September 16, 2014 2:06 PM
Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid