Even though I dislike being aboard an airplane, I still like to watch these sleek, sophisticated machines in the air above me. Particularly on a summers day, as I leisure in the afternoon sun, gazing up at the blue sky, while the silver objects move close to the speed of sound above the earth, painting the sky in white vapor. I often wonder where they are bound, as I envision the people aboard, wondering who they are and where they are headed.
Last Thursday, as I got up and opened my window, I saw an airliner moving silently above the sunrise. It was a clear, sunny morning and the white contrail against the deep blue was so smooth, yet so strong, as the belly of the craft reflected the rays of the first sun. I was so mesmerized by this sight that as it disappeared above me in the rooftop window, I ran into the living room, watching it reappear in my view, until I lost sight of it, as it moved fast in a southwestern direction. It was perhaps an transatlantic flight.
A few hours later, the airspace above Denmark was shut down, grounding all flights, simultaneously in Ireland, the United Kingdom, Norway and Sweden, due to volcanic ash in the atmosphere. This shut down spread within a day or two to to the rest of Europe. That plane I watched in the morning was most likely one of the last ones in the air.
The Icelandic volcano has certainly caused havoc across Europe and even the world. Not just concerning the air transport, but in its turn affecting business and in the long run, even the economy.
And apparently it has the power to affect our summer.
The volcano in question is called Eyjafjallajökul. It is actually a name of a glacier that covers the active volcano as a cap. The volcano has been active since Ice age, with most recent eruptions on 20th of March and the later on April 15th, spewing a column of ash into the air, as much as 8,5km tall.
If the volcano eruption persist, and perhaps causes other, more powerful volcanoes nearby to erupt, the presence of ash, or rather sulfur dioxide can effect the weather and make for a much cooler summer.
In 1783, an eruption of another volcano on Iceland called Laki caused a massive destruction. During eight months boiling lava and toxic gases were spewed into the atmosphere and an estimated 20-25% of the population on Iceland died in the famine after the eruptions ceased.
The eruption however effected the entire northern hemisphere.
An estimated 120 million tons of sulfur dioxide were emitted, which caused a thick haze to spread across western Europe, resulting in many thousands of deaths throughout 1783 and the winter of 1784. The fog was so thick that boats stayed in port, unable to navigate, and the sun was described as "blood coloured". The meteorological impact of Laki resonated on, contributing significantly to several years of extreme weather in Europe; storms, hail, cold summers, extreme winters, all resulting in failed crops.
An expert interviewed on Danish news recently claimed that if the volcanic activity persists, perhaps causing other volcanoes nearby to erupt, our summer can be effected. We can experience plummeting temperatures and even snow.
I choose not to believe this as it seems a bit out there, if you know what I mean. After a record cold winter, to have an absent summer is simply unimaginable.
I am not sure what the eruption has in store for us, nor am I willing to contemplate that at this point. But the ashes in the sky made for one spectacular weekend sunset, as seen below.