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
TEXT SIZE - +

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

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

John the XXIII and John Paul II will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square on April 27 More

Thailand Reacts to Plots Targeting Israelis

Authorities hope arrest of two Lebanese suspects will disrupt plot to attack young Israeli tourists More

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

'Once Upon a Forest' takes viewers deep into heart of tropical rainforest 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.
Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Churchi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 22, 2014 4:14 PM
On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Robotic Mission Kicks Up Lunar Dust

A robotic mission to the moon was deliberately crashed onto the lunar surface late last week, but not before scientists had collected data gathered by the spacecraft which was designed to self-destruct. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports on the preliminary findings of the craft, called LADEE - an acronym for Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer.
Video

Video Boko Haram Claims Responsibility for Bombing in Nigerian Capital

The Nigerian militant group known as Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for a bombing in the capital on April 14th that killed 75 people. In the video message, Abubakar Shekau, the man who says he ordered the bombing, says nothing about the mass abduction of more than 100 teenage girls, most of whom are still missing. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Abuja.
Video

Video Ukraine Developments Hang Over Obama Trip to Asia

President Barack Obama's trip to Asia this week comes as concerns over Beijing's territorial ambitions are growing in the region. Those concerns have been compounded by Russia's recent actions in Ukraine and the possibility that Chinese strategists might be looking to Crimea as a model for its territorial disputes with its neighbors. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid