April 19, 2010

Ashes In The Sky.

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.

33 comments :

seema said...

Just a while ago I was looking at the picture's of the said volcanic erruption... and here is a post from you on the same subject... As usual very informative, I got to learn a lot many things than I already knew about the catastrophe...

I hope and pray to God you don't have to experience whatever the experts have to say...

Cheers
Seema

Brian Miller said...

really this intrigues me...between that and the earthquakes it makes me wonder what the earth is telling us...perhaps there is beauty in slowing down a bit...

Gal Friday said...

This "Year Of The Tiger"(a year of upheaval) certainly has been destructive, as far a Nature is concerned.
Still, let's cross our fingers that somehow...somehow...your summer might remain fairly normal.

Alesa Warcan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Zuzu said...

We think we have a handle on things, and then this amazing universe of change reminds us that we need to tip and turn along with it. Quite a ride.

Donna said...

The sunset is beautiful, Zuzana! Hoping everything settles down.

Claus said...

WOW! I have read all about the volcano, as it's simply incredible, and even when I read that there was going to be consequences other than problems with air traffic, I never imagined it could affect seasons that much! But thinking deeply on it, it is only logic that a thick "layer" of ash in the air is to affect the ground below. Hopefully not! and the volcano will cease to explode and throw itself in the air.
One volcano, in one island up in the northern hemisphere affecting almost the entire planet!...incredible, isn't it?
have a good day!
*hugs*

Ji said...

heavenly beautiful,
lovely post!

Ji said...

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awards 4 u.

sallymandy/bluekimonostudio said...

Hi Zuzana! It's so great to come back to your lovely blog, one of my favorites. I've been away from my blogging friends for several weeks.

And to read your account of the effects of the volcano in Europe...thank you. I woke up this morning to a radio story about it. I also appreciate the history of Laki.

I certainly hope the effects of this volcano won't be too harsh. xo

LadyCat said...

The sunset is beautiful. It is amazing how many areas are affected by one event in nature. it's like a ripple ffect. Hope you keep your warm summer : )

Rosezilla said...

I was wondering how this was affecting you. I guess the sunset picture proves the saying that "There is no great loss without some small gain." The pictures of the ash are pretty spectacular if you don't have to put up with it; but I am sorry for those it has inconvenienced.

Cottage Garden said...

Oh dear ... it will be so disappointing if continuing eruptions affect our summer weather - we had a pretty poor summer last year too ... I guess we will just have to wait and see.

A very interesting post Zuzana. I remember reading about how the devastating weather affected people in England in the late 1780s but I didn't realise it was from an Icelandic volcano. I learn so much from your blog!

Our friends who are over from Sydney are due to fly back later this week but it's doubtful at the moment - all the airports are still closed and there is a massive backlog. So glad I don't have to travel anywhere at the moment!

Have a lovely evening dear Zuzana.

Jeanne
xx

sprinkles said...

That sunset is gorgeous, even with all the ash!

Where I live, it is a military town. There's an air show every few years or so that's popular. I don't go for personal reasons but I used to enjoy watching the planes fly overhead. Afterwards, there'd be military planes set up that the public could view.

Dan said...

What a great post Zuzana, though if the blooming thing causes another poor summer in the UK I think I'll scream!!
Touch wood, since it erupted, it's been sunny and dry here. I have a few friends 'stranded' in holiday destinations - I could think of worse things!!
Dan
-x-

Sandy said...

Yes, Zuzana, this is a very interesting post - it is unbelievable the effect of the ash now across Europe and what has also happened in the past to countries like Iceland. There will be some idiot who will blame it (and everything else) on the so called global warming but the earth continues to go through changes that man has no affect on at all.

Teacup Lane (Sandy)

jeannette said...

All the changes that this eruption would bring, this is what I was wondering about in my post about "will things remain" -maybe now you understand my focus on "hope":)
Surely hope it won't effect the summer, but even hope more strongly that this will not cause eruptions of another volcano or human life will be effected.

Scribe816 said...

Mother Earth has been trying to tell us something for a long time now. We fragile inhabitants think we’re in control, but that is such a joke. The more we depend on technology, they more vulnerable we become.
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What’s more fascinating than anything else is that you can find the hidden beauty in something that can be so destructive. As the ash plays havoc you’re able to see the mesmerizing effect it has on a sunset.
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My gut feeling is that you won’t be cheated out of a summer. Call it a hunch.

Richard Jesse Watson said...

When the earth sighs, we are astounded. Such grandeur and power. The whole of human history and pomp, is but a !snap! relative to geologic time and force. Although, the boy in me wants in the worst way to see a volcano in action.

Holly said...

I really truly hope that this volcanic activity doesn't affect your summer. I know that summer is your time of year. The time you look most forward to and thrive in. If it does make your summer cold and dreary I guess you will have no choice but to come and visit me. :):) This post was very interesting! I guess I was not really aware of just how extreme the effects of the volcanoe can be on the atmosphere!

Bachelor said...

Zuzana,
You remind me of my dad during days long gone. He too would rush outside to see the airplanes. He was simply fascinated with them. Great review on the valcanic dust.
:) The Bach

Blog Princess G said...

It's very humbling to see what a natural occurence can do to our carefully planned lives. On a lighter note, what a gorgeous new photograph of you!

Sniffles and Smiles said...

Wow! So wonderful to read your perspective of this spectacular but troublesome event! My father was an oceanography/geologist...at times like these, I wish he were still alive so I could get his perspective...and so it was especially lovely to read your views here today! ~Janine XO

Rajesh said...

Very interesting post. It is very difficult to predict these natural disasters. The sunset is definitely spectacular.

Mood, call me Mahmood said...

WOW! the view out there is once in a life time.But hopefully the ashes get blown away soon ( somewhere but not to Borneo!)Thanks for droppin by at my new site.
Hav a great week ahead.

steviewren said...

Since the explosion I've been wondering how Denmark has been effected by the ash cloud. Thanks for the update.

I read a book last year that you might like titled Krakatoa:The Day the World Exploded by Simon Winchester. In it, the author explores the causes as well as the immediate and long range effect of the volcanic explosion. Those effects were felt around the world.

Beverlydru said...

I just KNEW I would find more details and photos about the volcanic activity on your blog and I delighted in the personal commentary along with the facts. Great photos, as always.

Zuzana said...

Seema, Brian, Tina, Zuzu, Donna, Claudia, Ji, sallymandy, LadyCat, Rosezilla, Jeanne, sprinkles, Dan, Sandy, jeannette, Scribe, Richard, Holly, The Bach, BPG, Janine, Rajesh, Mahmood, Stevie and Beverlydru, I am so happy to learn that you enjoyed my take on the volcanic ash that is causing so much trouble around in Europe.
The volcanic eruption has apparently intensified in strength again, even though some airports are now reopened.
As you point out, no matter the technology, nature is still very much superior and still very much in charge of us, not the other way around. And I am quiet glad for that.
Even though apparently completely unrelated to the eruption, our weather is kinda crazy today; it is snowing.:(

Thank you all so much for stopping by and leaving such insightful comments. And I am glad to hear that you liked my sunset.;)

Xoxo,
Zuzana

Titane333 said...

It's always a pleasure to visit your blog and read your news, always interesting
xoxo

Hilary said...

It sure does make for a colourful sunset. Your post brings two events to mind. When Mount St. Helens erupted 30 years ago, our skies were cloudy with ash. It was an odd experience. Not nearly as eerie though as the absolutely silent skies after 9/11. You've had both at once.. it must be so strange. I'm really glad though that this was not happening during a planned visit from Ireland. ;)

Sumandebray said...

do you think once upon a time such vocanic erruption spread so much of poisonious ash all over the place that brought end to animal kingdom of prehistoric times

Zuzana said...

Christiane, Hilary and Sumandebray; thank you so much for your kind words and your opinion about the volcanic eruption.;) xoxo

Doreen said...

I hope the ash doesn't disrupt your summer. we all need the sunshine. this is maybe a look into the future if we don't take care of our environment. (like they depict in so many movies)