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Satellites Keep Aircraft Away From Volcanic Cloud

timothy posted about 4 years ago | from the hope-it's-not-opposite-day dept.

Earth 109

coondoggie writes "A range of satellites from a host of different nations are pumping out images and data on the Icelandic volcano currently wreaking havoc on commercial airline traffic and aviation in general. The European Space Agency today noted four major satellites that are monitoring the volcano that erupted this week under Iceland's Eyjafjallajoekull glacier. They include NASA's Aqua and Aura as well as the European Space Agency's Envisat and MetOp spacecraft. Other satellites such as NASA's Terra and NOAA's GOES satellite also provide images." Updated 20100416 01:17 GMT by timothy: Apropos that, 2Y9D57 writes with this "Image of the Icelandic volcano, Eyjafjallajökull, after it began erupting on 15 April. Acquired by the German TerraSAR-X synthetic aperture radar satellite from a height of about 500 kilometers / 300 miles."

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Pro editing (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31878714)

The four major satellites that are providing key information on the European Space Agency today noted four major satellites that are monitoring the volcano that erupted this week under Iceland's Eyjafjallajoekull glacier.

Quality editing there timothy.

Re:Pro editing (1)

Meshach (578918) | about 4 years ago | (#31878738)

At least the name of the glacier is spelled correctly. Eyjafjallajoekull [wikipedia.org] is quite a mouthful.

Re:Pro editing (2, Funny)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | about 4 years ago | (#31878870)

At least the name of the glacier is spelled correctly. Eyjafjallajoekull [wikipedia.org] is quite a mouthful.

Actually, the correct spelling appears to be: Eyjafjallajökull [wikipedia.org] . Wikipedia just points "Eyjafjallajoekull" to the correct page. I suggest the following spelling change: Ayayayfalafeljoe'sskull

Re:Pro editing (2, Informative)

celibate for life (1639541) | about 4 years ago | (#31878990)

Icelandic is such a beautiful language, and so conservative too. It's so close to Old Norse it's fascinating.

Re:Pro editing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31881618)

All Scandinavian languages are actually remarkably boring and simplistic. If there is such a thing as linguistic beauty, they've certainly managed to iron it out of their languages by simply deleting all structure that might carry it.

Their speakers, especially Swedes, do compensate with a lot of arrogance and imperialistic hubris regarding the supposed special nature of their language and themselves though -- in particular towards their lesser people to the east, that they've tried to forcefully civilize into speaking Swedish for like a thousand years.... hasn't quite worked yet, the stubborn bastards don't understand their own good.

Re:Pro editing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31884026)

seems like someone did not get his rice cup in the Ikea factory. Right Lee Sun?

Re:Pro editing (2, Informative)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 4 years ago | (#31879730)

Replacing an umlaut with vowel + e is the normal way to do it when printing for a language that lacks umlauts. I have to do this if I use my mother's maiden name for any services.

Re:Pro editing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31879978)

You do realise that 'mothers maiden name' is a 'poor excuse for an easily remembered password' and that you could type anything, right?

Re:Pro editing (1)

mpe (36238) | about 4 years ago | (#31881624)

You do realise that 'mothers maiden name' is a 'poor excuse for an easily remembered password' and that you could type anything, right?

You realise that Icelanders do naming differently, not having "surnames" there is no such things as a "mothers maiden name" there :)

Re:Pro editing (1)

Ux64 (1187075) | about 4 years ago | (#31880344)

Year 2010 and nobody's heard of Unicode? My last name is: Hämäläinen. I don't like to write it as Haemaelaeinen. Try saying that.

Re:Pro editing (1)

pjt33 (739471) | about 4 years ago | (#31881010)

Has Slashdot? I bet you had to type that using HTML escape codes.

Surely you mean "Arpapos" editing... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31879276)

apropos [ap-ruh-poh]
–adverb
1. fitting; at the right time; to the purpose; opportunely.

Re:Surely you mean "Arpapos" editing... (1)

SalaSSin (1414849) | about 4 years ago | (#31880950)

I'm guessing he tried "à propos" which, in french, means 'by the way", but of course is not the same thing as "apropos", as you clearly stated.

Really now (0, Redundant)

Dynedain (141758) | about 4 years ago | (#31878722)

The four major satellites that are providing key information on the European Space Agency today noted four major satellites that are monitoring the volcano that erupted this week under Iceland's Eyjafjallajoekull glacier.

Huh... the four major satellites are noting four major satellites? That's a bit of tautological recursion.

Re:Really now (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | about 4 years ago | (#31878778)

The four major satellites that are providing key information on the European Space Agency today noted four major satellites that are monitoring the volcano ...

Perhaps the satellites are self-aware? Isn't this how Skynet got out of hand?

Re:Really now (2, Interesting)

kevingolding2001 (590321) | about 4 years ago | (#31879138)

That's a bit of tautological recursion.

Don't blame /. This is exactly how it is written in TFA (I know, I know.. I must be new here etc).

Although since the article author is Michael Cooney and the story was submitted by "coondoggie" I suspect they are one and the same.

Re:Really now (1)

gyrogeerloose (849181) | about 4 years ago | (#31880258)

Huh... the four major satellites are noting four major satellites? That's a bit of tautological recursion.

"Stamp out redundancy and do away with it."

Re:Really now (1)

The Archon V2.0 (782634) | about 4 years ago | (#31881976)

The four major satellites that are providing key information on the European Space Agency today noted four major satellites that are monitoring the volcano that erupted this week under Iceland's Eyjafjallajoekull glacier.

Huh... the four major satellites are noting four major satellites? That's a bit of tautological recursion.

Well, if you were a satellite, what would you rather monitor? Some boring old volcano or that sexy little number down the street? Why, her cowling's so small her gyroscopes are showing!

Eya... what? (1)

Psychotic_Wrath (693928) | about 4 years ago | (#31878742)

Ok seriously where does this name come from

Re:Eya... what? (5, Funny)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | about 4 years ago | (#31878800)

Ok seriously where does this name come from

"Eyjafjallajoekull" translates to: All your ash are belong to us

Re:Eya... what? (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 4 years ago | (#31880686)

Ok seriously where does this name come from

"Eyjafjallajoekull" translates to: All your ash are belong to us

We have Summer and Winter Olympics, and we also have Mordor and Iceland. Long live duality!

Re:Eya... what? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31878812)

Ok seriously where does this name come from

It can be translated to "The Island mountains glacier"

/ AC because I can't be bothered to log in after working long hours due to said volcano :)

Re:Eya... what? (4, Informative)

DMUTPeregrine (612791) | about 4 years ago | (#31878824)

Eyjafjallajokull: Eyja - Island. Fjalla - Mountain. Jokull - Glaicer. Island-mountain-glaicer. Icelandic is an agglutinative language like German, so words get strung together to make bigger words.

Re:Eya... what? (1)

treeves (963993) | about 4 years ago | (#31878964)

So is this name/word a common noun or a proper noun? It's as if Mt. Shasta were called instead forest-lake-mountain, or some such thing.

Re:Eya... what? (1)

Dewin (989206) | about 4 years ago | (#31879286)

You mean like Lake Forest Park [google.com] ?

Re:Eya... what? (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about 4 years ago | (#31880488)

Icelandic is an agglutinative language like German

So, I hope that the Dieimmeislandlebendenorwegischevolkergruppentypen are performing Fehlerbehebungsmassnahmen, in order to cap that volcano.

That second, really long word, actually popped up in my email once.

. . . agglutinative . . .

"Hmmm, agglutinative . . . my word for the day. "Schatz, I'm feeling at bit agglutinative. Let's stop and get something to eat."

Re:Eya... what? (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 4 years ago | (#31880720)

Only German is not an agglutinative language. The grammatical affixes are in paradigmatic relationship.

Re:Eya... what? (1)

Neoprofin (871029) | about 4 years ago | (#31882612)

It's a very easy mistake to make, and given the large number of agglutinative characteristics in German it's not like he completely or even totally missed the boat.

Had to be said (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31878746)

I for one welcome our Space Agency information providing, meta satellite overlords.

The four major satellites that are providing key information on the European Space Agency today noted four major satellites that are monitoring the volcano that erupted this week under Iceland's Eyjafjallajoekull glacier

Double-edged sword (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31878758)

How many planes saved from the ash will run into one of the satellites.

Re:Double-edged sword (1)

cosm (1072588) | about 4 years ago | (#31878834)

The same amount that will turn into magical unicorns?

Re:Double-edged sword (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31878950)

You've obviously forgotten that the earth is flat!

Space program (5, Insightful)

seifried (12921) | about 4 years ago | (#31878782)

The next time why someone asks why we should fund space exploration as opposed to simply spending money trying to feed starving people it might be good to point this out (along with weather prediction/mapping capabilities/etc.).

Re:Space program (1)

T Murphy (1054674) | about 4 years ago | (#31878836)

Yeah, we don't want planes flying through volcanic clouds over Mars- I've heard the volcanoes there are huge!

NB: I only mean this as a joke.

Re:Space program (5, Insightful)

ZeBam.com (1790466) | about 4 years ago | (#31879056)

The objection is usually to manned space exploration, which oddly enough did not play a role here.

Re:Space program (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31879124)

How do you think those satellites got there? How do you think that technology was refined enough to work? Yeah, MANNED SPACE FLIGHT is what pushes the boundaries. It is what allows all the rest of this.

Re:Space program (3, Informative)

sznupi (719324) | about 4 years ago | (#31879340)

ESA / Arianespace did not develop manned spaceflight capability; and yet they have very large chunk of satellite launching business (with 50+% of geostationary ones). Even when their manned spacecraft will show up, it will be probably a modification of unmanned ATV.

(note: I'm pro manned spaceflight, if done well; just sayin'...)

Re:Space program (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31883506)

there is more than just manned spaceflight. the haters want it ALL going to feeding starving people

Re:Space program (4, Interesting)

KeensMustard (655606) | about 4 years ago | (#31880404)

How do you think those satellites got there? How do you think that technology was refined enough to work? Yeah, MANNED SPACE FLIGHT is what pushes the boundaries. It is what allows all the rest of this.

History suggests that you have it the wrong way around. It is unmanned flight that pushes the boundaries, human flight trailing along far behind. Sputnik came before Gagarin. Luna-9/Surveyor landed on the moon before Apollo. Voyager/Cassini/Mars Rovers came before - well, before anything at all. Right now, Voyager 1 has passed the heliopause - it has left the solar system. Meanwhile, humans fix the toilets in LEO. How is that pushing the boundary? Humans are the vestigial organ of space exploration and exploitation. They've never been needed, and never will be.

Unless these satellites have to breath air or produce urine for some reason, chances are that the technology they use owes nothing to human spaceflight.

Re:Space program (1)

Anspen (673098) | about 4 years ago | (#31880578)

One small counter to this is that manned space flight encourages vastly increased safety. If it's an (expensive) satellite 99% likelihood of success is fine, if it's a human the boundaries get pushed up. ESA's Ariane 5 rocket is an example. It was mostly designed with a possible human payload in mind. That's one of the reason's for it's excellent record (well after the first few launches :)

Re:Space program (1)

khallow (566160) | about 4 years ago | (#31881584)

One small counter to this is that manned space flight encourages vastly increased safety.

This is incorrect. Multibillion dollar payloads are more valuable than astronauts (though perhaps not more valuable than the costs of blame finding sessions after humans are lost on a launch vehicle). The need for reliability doesn't diminish when you don't put people on a flight. What is different is that humans require different handling, for example, more abort options (since a human can possibly be recovered from a failed flight, especially with some sort of crew escape system in place, while a multibillion dollar satellite can't, with our current technology) and a need for a lower acceleration and vibration environment.

The Shuttle, for example, has a record worse than 99% survival of crew (in each case, the failure stemmed from a problem during launch) and that the crew of the Shuttle has the same survival rate as the orbiter and any payloads that the Shuttle is carrying.

ESA's Ariane 5 rocket is an example. It was mostly designed with a possible human payload in mind. That's one of the reason's for it's excellent record (well after the first few launches

It's designed to launch expensive payloads. It requires high reliability in order to drive launch costs down. For example, if the Ariane 5 loses the payload 5% of the time, then any billion dollar payload will require, on top of launch costs, more than $50 million in launch insurance (you also have to add in the chance that your satellite wipes out someone's house, boat, or massive propane tank farm when that accident happens). I gather the current failure rate is more like 2%, that means roughly $30 million in savings for the launch of this expensive payload going from 5% to 2% failure rate.

Re:Space program (3, Informative)

khallow (566160) | about 4 years ago | (#31881460)

Grandparent is correct. These satellites do not use technology developed from anyone's manned space program. Instead, they use technology that comes from various countries' reconnaissance satellites which are unmanned (sure, manned versions were planned at one time, but they never really contributed). The only other overlap is the launch vehicles which would have been developed anyway.

Re:Space program (1)

houghi (78078) | about 4 years ago | (#31879668)

Space exploration is not the same as putting a satellite in space.

Re:Space program (1)

seifried (12921) | about 4 years ago | (#31880082)

Uhhh. How do you think we first explored space? We sent probes (aka satellites) up there (Sputnik ring any bells?).

Re:Space program (2, Informative)

gyrogeerloose (849181) | about 4 years ago | (#31880288)

Uhhh. How do you think we first explored space? We sent probes (aka satellites) up there (Sputnik ring any bells?).

Did the original Sputnik actually probe anything? I thought it just was just a way for the USSR to demonstrate to the USA that it was capable of putting something into orbit and, by inference, put an ICBM on Eisenhower's front porch if it wanted to.

Volcano research (2, Informative)

AlpineR (32307) | about 4 years ago | (#31880412)

I also remember some Congress person complaining about the government paying for volcano research. I think they were from Louisiana or Mississippi and they laughed at what a waste of money it is for their citizens to pay to study volcanoes. Don't we already know everything about them anyway?

Well, sir, this is why. If a volcano blows, it affects more than its immediate neighbors.

Thank goodness (4, Funny)

T Murphy (1054674) | about 4 years ago | (#31878810)

Without these satellites, there would be no way to communicate where the cloud is:

Pilot: So where is this eruption at?
Control: I'm sorry, I've talked to the other three guys here and we don't have a clue how to pronounce the name of this glacier. I don't think we can help you. Good luck!

Futile effort, when the solution is so simple (2, Insightful)

sznupi (719324) | about 4 years ago | (#31878820)

Behold! Bow under the wrath of Loki, heretics! Renounce your faith from the far lands and return to truthfull ways of your ancestors!

(Loki the trickster; those are just tricks, you haven't seen nothing yet...)

Re:Futile effort, when the solution is so simple (1)

catman (1412) | about 4 years ago | (#31880956)

ITYM Laki [wikipedia.org] whose wrath may have hastened the French revolution and caused the Mississippi to freeze at New Orleans.

Re:Futile effort, when the solution is so simple (1)

sznupi (719324) | about 4 years ago | (#31881100)

ITIM not a single volcano, but a deity which might be the closest to them in the only true mythology.

Re:Futile effort, when the solution is so simple (1)

catman (1412) | about 4 years ago | (#31882294)

Loki does seem to be the closest deity, yes. In fact, in one variety of modern Norwegian the word "loge" means "flame". And he is an unreliable trickster, too! Laki is/was in fact not a single volcano, but a long fiery crack in the ground - 130 craters in the 1783 eruption. Oh well - Iceland keeps growing, and Europe and North America keep drifting apart.

Raw feeds? (4, Informative)

Hazee Daze (998624) | about 4 years ago | (#31878872)

So I guess the /. question is can we see their raw feeds?

NASA Aqua
NASA Aura
NASA's Terra
European Space Agency's Envisat
European Space Agency's MetOp
NOAA's GOES: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite
- http://www.goes.noaa.gov/ [noaa.gov]
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NOAA [wikipedia.org]
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geostationary_Operational_Environmental_Satellite [wikipedia.org]

Space research always pays for itself in the long term. The acronyms in the NOAA GOES got me interested.

The sky over Germany looked clear today (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31878896)

At what density is volcanic ash dangerous to aircraft turbines and what is the damage mechanism? On the satellite images, it looks like the air space south of Scotland was only peripherally affected by the plume coming from the volcano. I wonder if the widely dispersed ash is really that much of a problem.

Re:The sky over Germany looked clear today (5, Informative)

Anssi55 (729722) | about 4 years ago | (#31879024)

Re:The sky over Germany looked clear today (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31879076)

Thank you. These flights were over northern Finland, which was even less affected by the ash plume than most of Europe, so I guess very low concentrations of ash can indeed be damaging. The damage mechanism appears to be melting of the ash in the turbine and clogging vents and sensors.

Re:The sky over Germany looked clear today (5, Informative)

Ogi_UnixNut (916982) | about 4 years ago | (#31879154)

It's dangerous in three main ways to an aircraft:

Least dangerous (relatively) is the st.elmos fire produced by static buildup (you are flying through a good static generator at high speed).

Next is the fact that you are flying through ash, which is a bit like sandpaper. The result is your turbines get sand blasted, ruining them in many ways. This is not an instant failure, most aircraft will just continue and get the engines repaired/replaced at next stop.

Most dangerous is the third. The glass, silica and other parts thrown into the air will melt in the high temperature of the turbine combustion chamber. This will then tend to fuse and block further combustion, resulting in the engine shutting down mid-air. Bad situation to be in, made worse by the fact there is no guarantee you can start it up again (normally after a few mins the gunk will solidify and break off, allowing you to restart the engine, but this isn't guaranteed (and this is assuming it breaks off before you impact the ground)

Re:The sky over Germany looked clear today (5, Informative)

riverat1 (1048260) | about 4 years ago | (#31879212)

Also the abrasive effect of the ash can scratch the windows, particularly the forward facing ones the pilots look out of and it can abrade the aluminum skin, particularly the leading edges of the wings. Neither will bring the plane down but they can necessitate expensive repairs and if the windows become opaque enough it can make landing difficult.

Landings won't be difficult (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31880986)

All major airports have CAT III ILS so the autopilot can perform the landing until the aircraft should be taxied off the runway. At that point there will obviously be some difficulties and it will take longer but the landing itself will just be a routine zero visibility landing.

Re:Landings won't be difficult (1)

fbjon (692006) | about 4 years ago | (#31881908)

Not quite routine, since the engines are in an unknown state even if running.

Re:The sky over Germany looked clear today (1)

MartinSchou (1360093) | about 4 years ago | (#31879836)

(and this is assuming it breaks off before you impact the ground)Well ... there's IS a pretty good chance that it will at least break off WHEN you impact on the ground.

Re:The sky over Germany looked clear today (3, Interesting)

joe_frisch (1366229) | about 4 years ago | (#31880090)

Anyone know at what density the ash is a hazard? This is the first large scale grounding of commercial aircraft due to a volcanic eruption that I can remember. Wikipedia lists an all engine out on a 747 in 1982 but maybe there are more cases.

Volcanic ash above some concentration is certainly a hazard, but this seems like a lot of airspace for a modest eruption.

Re:The sky over Germany looked clear today (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about 4 years ago | (#31880388)

"Hi, this is your captain speaking. Due to cost-cutting measures, there is no in flight entertainment. Please look out your windoww, and look at St. Elmo's fire instead, as we will be flying through volcanic ash. When the engines cut out, and we start to dive, please raise your hands above your head, and shout "Weeeeeeeeeeeee!"

The sky over Germany looked clear today

That sounds like a spy sign / counter-sign phrase:

Spy 1: "It is warm in Moscow this spring.

Spy 2: "The camels are in heat."

Kneejerk reaction (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31881138)

It's a complete kneejerk reaction. I know some of our neighbouring countries have had a more sensible lockdown of airspace, but in Denmark the entire FIR was shut down for all airspace users. Since Thursday. Never mind the fact that quite a few of the airspace users would be completely unaffected flying in this weather, just as they would be unaffected if some dust was hurled up from the ground.

Could someone please show me a good reason why short distance low level VFR helicopter traffic, landing practices for prop-pilots, all glider activity (no engine!), all paraglider activity (no engine, no instruments!), and all balloon activity should be shut down when the national met-office has issued no warnings about dangerous weather?

The VFR forecast says "jolly nice weather for flying. Note: Airspace is closed"

VFR forecast:
http://tinyurl.com/y6m3kay
Quote:
Weather: no significant.

Re:Kneejerk reaction (1)

mpe (36238) | about 4 years ago | (#31881572)

It's a complete kneejerk reaction. I know some of our neighbouring countries have had a more sensible lockdown of airspace, but in Denmark the entire FIR was shut down for all airspace users. Since Thursday. Never mind the fact that quite a few of the airspace users would be completely unaffected flying in this weather, just as they would be unaffected if some dust was hurled up from the ground.
Could someone please show me a good reason why short distance low level VFR helicopter traffic, landing practices for prop-pilots, all glider activity (no engine!), all paraglider activity (no engine, no instruments!), and all balloon activity should be shut down when the national met-office has issued no warnings about dangerous weather?


Even big jets can fly below their usual cruising altitude. Even though range is much reduced the extra fuel might still be cheaper the current situation.

Amazing what they can do these days... (4, Funny)

d474 (695126) | about 4 years ago | (#31878976)

Satellites Keep Aircraft Away From Volcanic Cloud

I didn't realize satellites could fly so low, let alone herd airplanes like sheep. Amazing what they can do these days...

If this is Iceland, the pic is scary. (3, Informative)

Hazee Daze (998624) | about 4 years ago | (#31879146)

Re:If this is Iceland, the pic is scary. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31879532)

Good news, everyone! It's not Iceland. It shows Svalbard (left) and Scandinavia (right). Look at the keymap (the globe icon on the left side). Actually, I'm not sure what your concern is. It's just a storm system. They're all over the place.

This image shows Iceland [nasa.gov] (in the upper left corner). Another way to look at the Terra/MODIS images is via the daily Arctic mosaic [nasa.gov] . Iceland is the the bottom of the mosaic [nasa.gov] , and then you can click on it and get a more detailed view [nasa.gov] , where the ash plume is visible as an eastward-directed brownish-grey plume of cloud near the southern coast of the island, partially hidden beneath the white, normal clouds. They also have a cropped-down view of Iceland [nasa.gov] . The 250m view is detailed enough to see the plume easily.

Re:If this is Iceland, the pic is scary. (5, Informative)

symbolset (646467) | about 4 years ago | (#31879936)

When this volcano blows a major Katla eruption follows soon after. Katla is about 10 miles East.

This one shuts down half the air travel in western Europe for a few days. Katla shuts down summer. The farmers are not worried about this volcano [icelandreview.com] :

"I am not afraid of this eruption but I fear Katla. It might not happen immediately but it will happen. Then we will be talking about much more power," Agnarsson said.

It has to do with the type of plate tectonics here. The plates are pulling apart, yielding a very deep rift that releases very hot magma from very far down in the mantle, which is saturated with CO2 and when released goes very high, far, thick and long. Naturally this will melt a great deal of Iceland glacier very quickly, impacting the currents in the Atlantic.

Re:If this is Iceland, the pic is scary. (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31880944)

"It has to do with the type of plate tectonics here. The plates are pulling apart, yielding a very deep rift that releases very hot magma from very far down in the mantle, which is saturated with CO2 and when released goes very high, far, thick and long. Naturally this will melt a great deal of Iceland glacier very quickly, impacting the currents in the Atlantic."

This is true for all of the volcanoes in Iceland. They are related to the rifting that occurs along the mid-Atlantic Ridge, where the North American plate is stretching away from the Eurasian Plate. The magma comes up the cracks and eventually erupts onto the surface. CO2 has little or nothing to do with melting the glaciers. The heat of the lava at the vent does, and the contact with the water produces much of the explosiveness that eventually produces ash and lofts it into the atmosphere. The climatic effects are mainly from a combination of the ash particles and aerosols such as sulphur dioxide, and they are mostly cooling effects due to obscuring the Sun, however, Eyjafjallajokull is not a big enough eruption -- so far -- to have a significant climatic effect. Katla, by contrast, is a much larger volcanic center and has historically had much bigger eruptions, hence the worry if that one blows too. The effect on Atlantic ocean water is negligible except around Iceland itself.

There are plenty of the more technical details at the Nordic Volcanological Center [norvol.hi.is] site, including a link to this paper [norvol.hi.is] [PDF] that has ample detail about these two volcanoes and their historical and more modern behaviour. It isn't cause for optimism. The key phrase from the introduction is that eruptions at Katla [wikipedia.org] have been up to 2km3 in volume, whereas those at Eyjafjallajokull "have been negligible in historic times and range in the 0.1km3 scale. This is a "small" eruption. Really. Even with that "negligible" volume, the most recent eruption lasted from 1821 to 1823, and was with Katla erupting simultaneously. These eruptions have sometimes A) lasted for many months or years, and B) been much, much larger if Katla erupts too. Not to mention the local effects such as even bigger jokulhlaups [wikipedia.org] than have been triggered so far, and for some eruptions (e.g., Laki [wikipedia.org] in the 1700s), release of toxic gasses such as HF too. Sometimes the eruptions are no big deal, and they wane and stop over a few weeks. Sometimes they are nasty and prolonged. It isn't clear what this one will do, but if there are signs that Katla is going to join in ... be prepared for something much more awful.

Wallpaper Images? (1)

Hadlock (143607) | about 4 years ago | (#31879158)

Anyone have a link to some of the better pics of the ash explosion? There was a great thumbnail sized pic that was circulating on all the news stories when it first erupted but nobody's seen the high res original yet. Post cool, high res ash explosion pics in your replies. Thanks!

Airplanes can fly under it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31879322)

I think something is wrong about it, these clouds are at 2000 feet
Planes can fly lower then 2000 feet, just keep aware of rain (but its pretty far from Iceland so its pretty diluted).

Plume modeling (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31879970)

In the US, NOAA/National Weather Service will run plume models during events like these, but for an area of responsibility over the US, Pacific, Alaska, South America and others. Apparently the UKMet/EuroControl has responsibility for the Atlantic so I assume they do something similar. The data from these sats are using to start off the models and also help verify the results of the model runs. The science of these models and results are held somewhat closely since they could provide information to bad guys but are likely what is being used to route planes and close off airspace.

Volcano monitoring? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31881004)

Whatever! Just more wasteful liberal big brother socialist commie spending money on stuff that's obvious.

Just ask my main man Bobby Jindal.

Increased geological activity? (2, Interesting)

SaberCat (1391411) | about 4 years ago | (#31881084)

Humm... it seems like we are seeing an increase in earthquakes and now a volcano. I wonder if it has anything to do with melting glaciers and polar ice caps. Seems like, as the ice melts its weight is shifted from the ice to the oceans. As sea levels rise, increased weight is applied to continental shelves and tectonic plates and weight is decreased where the ice was. I wonder if this could cause the plates to shift. Also, if volcanoes spew more sulfur, etc. into the atmosphere there could be a cooling effect. I don't recall hearing anyone mention that global warming might cause geologic shifts. Maybe that will be the most immediate consequence? What do you think??

Re:Increased geological activity? (2, Interesting)

budgenator (254554) | about 4 years ago | (#31882510)

Earthquakes [iris.edu] look pretty typical to me, notoriety isn't the same thing as frequency or intensity. Also the glaciers have been melting for the entire Holocene [wikipedia.org] , so that's really not unusual and to top it all off the polar ice caps have rebounded [nsidc.org] to normal levels. Some scientists have made a similar assertion to icecap melting leading to increased vulcanism;

They said there was no sign that the current eruption from below the Eyjafjallajokull glacier that has paralysed flights over northern Europe was linked to global warming. The glacier is too small and light to affect local geology. Ice cap thaw may awaken Icelandic volcanoes [scientificamerican.com]

that isn't the case here.

Re:Increased geological activity? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31882662)

I wonder if it has anything to do with melting glaciers and polar ice caps

Glaciers are melting - and growing.

Southern ice cap - way above normal.

Northern ice cap - normal (within one standard deviation if I remember correctly)

If you want to blame something, then at least there's a deep solar minimum that has some correlation with increased volcanism and erthquake activity - the deepest for over a century, maybe two.

Re:Increased geological activity? (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | about 4 years ago | (#31883258)

Humm... it seems like we are seeing an increase in earthquakes...

No, we're not. It really isn't a good idea to use the media to measure how something 'increases'.

Meow. (1)

Guppy (12314) | about 4 years ago | (#31881430)

I'm wondering if journalists and bloggers are finding they have to disable their catlike-typing [bitboost.com] detection software everytime they need to input the word "Eyjafjallajökull".

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