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Icelandic ash cloud closes UK airports (updated) 15 April 2010

Posted by admin in activity reports, eruptions, Eyjafjöll, Iceland.
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Meteosat Iceland ash cloud 15 April 2010 0700 GMT
Meteosat image of the Iceland ash cloud, 07:00 GMT on 15 April 2010. Click on the image for the EUMETSAT source page.

The ash cloud from the Eyjafjallajökull-Fimmvörduháls eruption in southern Iceland has reached the British Isles and is having a severe impact upon air travel to and from UK and Irish airports. According to London VAAC the plume is reaching altitudes of 6-11 km and stretches across much of northern Britain. Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow airports in Scotland are all currently closed, and in England and Wales traffic at Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, East Midlands, Leeds Bradford, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and London’s Gatwick, Heathrow and Standsted airports being disrupted. Flights from Dublin and from Belfast’s airports have also been suspended. The flight disruption is affecting all North Atlantic flights, with the United States FAA reporting ‘most Trans-Atlantic flights’ affected this morning; and of course Iceland’s own air traffic is severely disrupted as well. Even the current British general election campaign is being affected by the flight disruption (cue lame references to seismic events and political faultlines).

Click here for Meteosat imagery of the ash cloud. The UK Met Office model of the ash cloud’s spread between 1800Z on 14 April and 1200Z on 15 April can be found here. The 1200Z image is shown below; the different colour lines indicate the approximate area of the cloud at various heights: red = between surface and FL200 (6,000 metres), green = between FL200 and FL350 (between 6,000 and 10,600 metres), blue = between FL 350 and FL 550 (between 10,600 and 16,700 metres).

Iceland ice cloud model 15 April 2010 (UK Met Office)

UPDATE: The effects of the ash are spreading across northern Europe. Denmark is closing its airspace from 1600 GMT today, and there is air traffic disruption in Norway, Sweden and Finland. UK air traffic control organization NATS has closed United Kingdom airspace from 1200 until at least 1800 BST today. Text of NATS statement:

Statement on Icelandic volcanic eruption: Thurs April 15, 09:30
From midday today until at least 6pm, there will be no flights permitted in UK controlled airspace other than emergency situations. This has been applied in accordance with international civil aviation policy. We continue to monitor the situation with the Met Office and work closely with airline customers and adjoining countries. We will review the situation later today to understand what further action will be required.

(‘A huge ash mushroom across major British flight paths threatens to turn the journies [sic] of thousands of families returning from their Easter holidays into a nightmare’  reports The Times, displaying the kind of journalistic quality for which they’ll be expecting online readers to pay soon. Huge ash mushroom indeed.)

For all our Eyjafjallajökull coverage: Eyjafjöll « The Volcanism Blog.

Flights limited due to new Icelandic eruptionIceland Review Online, 14 April 2010
Volcano ash from Iceland hits UK flights – BBC News, 15 April 2010
Dust from volcano closes Scottish airports – BBC News, 15 April 2010
Volcanic ash ‘a very serious risk’ to aircraft – BBC News, 15 April 2010
Volcanic ash creates flights chaos across BritainThe Times, 15 April 2010
Airports closed as volcanic ash drifts towards UKThe Guardian, 15 April 2010
Volcano ash shuts many airports in U.K. – CNN, 15 April 2010
FAA says most North Trans-Atlantic flights affected by volcano dangerWall Street Journal, 15 April 2010

Global Volcanism Program: Eyjafjöll – summary information for Eyjafjallajökull, which the GVP calls Eyjafjöll (1702-02=)

The Volcanism Blog


1. teeweewonders - 15 April 2010

Love your blog! How very interesting. Please keep up the posts. :)

2. nessa - 15 April 2010

if the ash falls on someting wiil it burn that object or person ?

3. admin - 15 April 2010

Nessa – no, it won’t burn. Volcanic ash presents various potential health hazards, but burning is only a danger very close to the eruption.

Here’s USGS advice on volcanic ash health hazards:

4. D Thomas - 15 April 2010

You do know that Cardiff airport is not in England right?
I hesitate to mention it because the rest of the blog is so full of useful info. Much better than trying to translate from the Icelandic reports.

5. admin - 15 April 2010

D. Thomas – you are absolutely right. I’ve corrected the post accordingly.

6. Russell Lundberg - 15 April 2010

Hi, thanks for your coverage and insights of the current eruption. http://www.volcanovoices.com currently tracks 15 blogs on the topic of Volcanoes and is thus a great way to scan many data sources at once of this breaking story.

If anyone would like to have a blog added to the site, just enter it into the “Suggest a Blog” box.

Best regards,


7. Simon Jordan - 16 April 2010

I have just come across this blog, it’s excellent! Manchester Airport, still no flights.No ash as yet where I live, but a beautiful sunset over Manchester last night, it was almost eerie.

8. admin - 16 April 2010

Thank you, Simon! Too cloudy here in Yorkshire yesterday for there to be much of a sunset, perhaps this evening will be better.

Relatives of mine in south-west London are enjoying the peace and quiet of these flightless days.

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