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

Algerians Vote in Presidential Election

There were few media reports of protests and clashes around the country, but so far no significant violence More

Sharks More Evolved than Previously Thought

The discovery could “profoundly affect our understanding of evolutionary history” More

Pakistan Military Asked to Protect Polio Workers

Request comes as authorities say a Taliban ban on vaccinations in 2012 and deadly attacks on anti-polio teams have prevented thousands of children from getting inoculated 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.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid