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Sunday, April 18, 2010


There is a possibly apocryphal tale of a British newspaper using the headline "FOG IN CHANNEL - EUROPE CUT OFF". It seems quite possible Europe, including us, will be cut off from the world for some time. The WSJ reports
The flying ban over Northern and Central Europe is being extended into Monday, but European airlines were carrying out test flights Sunday in the hope that they could resume some flights even though the fallout from the Icelandic volcanic eruption showed little sign of easing...

The affected airspace includes Austria, Belgium, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, most of France, most of Germany, northern Spain, Hungary, Ireland, northern Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine and the U.K.
"Little sign of easing" may be an understatement. The Eyjafjallajökull volcano first went active in December & started melting through the glacier on top. 20 March 2010, about 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) east of the top crater of the volcano in a popular hiking region called Fimmvörðuháls. This first eruption, in the form of a fissure vent, did not occur under the glacier and was smaller in scale than had been thought by some geologists. On 14 April 2010 Eyjafjallajökull resumed erupting after a brief pause, this time from the top crater in the centre of the glacier, causing meltwater floods (also known as jökulhlaup) to rush down the nearby rivers, and requiring 800 people to be evacuated. This eruption was explosive in nature and is estimated to be ten to twenty times larger than the previous one in Fimmvörðuháls. This second eruption threw volcanic ash several kilometres up in the atmosphere which led to air travel disruptions in northwest Europe starting on April 15th 2010. A fissure vent is likely to keep emitting for much longer than traditional volcanoes for example the Laki volcano spewed out 14 cubic km over a period of 8 months in 1783/4 causing bad harvests across Europe . Incidentally making Benjamin Franklin, returning ambassador to France during the American Revolution a founder of real climate science by suggesting that ice ages were triggered by such eruptions & persuading Robert Burns that farming wasn't a good career choice.

Another reason for thinking we are nearer the start than the end of these volcanic clouds is
Over the past 1,100 years, Eyjafjallajökull has erupted four times: in 920, 1612, between 1821–1823, and in 2010. Each of the first three of these incidents preceded an eruption in the nearby subglacial volcano, Katla.[14] Katla – a much more active volcano

This, like the Carrington Event shows how modern technology, because it uses elements not used previously & is engineered to very fine tolerances can sometimes be more susceptible to environmental changes than older technology.

On the grounds that the solution to technological problems is improved technology we should be looking that way. It may be possible to replace some parts of airplane engines with stronger materials. It may be possible the world's remaining propeller planes, which do not need to worry about volcanic dust getting into engines. More likely there is some solution I have no idea of.

However I think Europe is going to have to get used to being partially cut off from the world for many months. The economic effects of that, when we are already on the cusp of an economic meltdown, do not bear thinking about - except that they must be thought about.

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Lots of helicopters have sand filters. They reduce power of course but they might work for dust as well.
Nah, people were better educated then.
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