'Right' to shut down air space over Iceland volcano: study

The ash cloud from Iceland's Eyjafjoell volcano eruption last year was indeed dangerous to aircraft and authorities were right to carry out the planet's largest air space shutdown since World War II, the head of a Danish-Icelandic research team said Tuesday.

"Aviation authorities were really flying blind. They didn't know (but they) luckily made the right decision," said Susan Stipp, a professor at the Nano-Science Centre at the University of Copenhagen.

"The (ash) particles were small so they went high and far. They were sharp, so they were a danger to airplane windows. It's like sand-blasting the airplane. And they were small and could melt at temperatures common in jet engines ... and could cause failure," she told AFP.

Stipp and her team published, along with an University of Iceland group led by professor Siggi Gislason, a study in the US-based Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) journal detailing the dangers posed by the Eyjafjoell ash cloud.

"Concerns for air transport were well grounded," the study concludes.

The study also provides a protocol for quickly determining the menace posed by ash from future eruptions.

"Within 24 hours we ... can give (authorities) the information they need to make a better judgment of the dispersion of the particles (and) to find out if the ash is going to kill the airplane or just be an annoyance," Stipp said.

On April 14, 2010, Eyjafjoell erupted, pushing out a plume of ash that rose to heights of up to 9,000 metres (nearly 30,000 feet).

Wind pushed the ash southeast and by evening it had reached the skies over Norway, which promptly closed its airspace for fear the fine ash would clog up aircraft engines and reduce visibility.

The next day alone, more than 10 European countries followed suit in grounding all flights, and Eyjafjoell ended up wreaking havoc in European skies for almost a month, cancelling more than 100,000 flights and affecting more than 10 million travellers.

Many at the time voiced scepticism that the crippling air space closures were necessary, and so far authorities have had difficulties saying the Eyjafjoell ash was particularly dangerous.

The problem with the Eyjafjoell eruption, according to the researchers, was that it happened under a glacier, bursting through 200-300 metres of ice.

It was the "interaction between the cold water and the hot magma that made the particles really tiny," Stipp said.

While airplanes fly around in dust all the time, authorities can monitor the day-to-day wear and tear that causes, she pointed out.

"But if you are flying through an ash cloud, the intensity goes up fast and you can't monitor it, and it could cause a problem while there are people there," she stressed.

nl/rdm/ga

 

Voices
Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
News
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Sport
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
Life and Style
food + drink
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
a clockwork orange, stanley kubrick
filmSony could have made a cult classic
Life and Style
fashionThe essential guide to all the designer Christmas sale dates
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
News
news... you won't believe how bad their skills were
News
people

Arts and Entertainment
Mark Wright and Mark Wright
tvStrictly goes head-to-head with Apprentice
Sport
footballPremier League preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's clashes
News
i100
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Investigo: Finance Analyst

    £240 - £275 per day: Investigo: Support the global business through in-depth a...

    Ashdown Group: Data Manager - £Market Rate

    Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Data Manager - MySQL, Shell Scripts, Java, VB Scrip...

    Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - Bedfordshire/Cambs border - £32k

    £27000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - near S...

    Recruitment Genius: Class 1 HGV Driver

    £23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This successful group of compan...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas