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Re-opening of UK airspace: NATS statement 21 April 2010

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The UK air traffic control authority NATS has issued a statement this morning on the re-opening of UK airspace which became effective last night:

Statement on Icelandic volcanic eruption: Wednesday April 21, 0945

Overnight most of the UK’s airspace has been available with the exception of an area over the north west of Scotland which has continued to be affected by a dense concentration of volcanic ash.  We continue to work with the latest information and guidance from our safety regulator, the CAA, the Met Office and the Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre on the predicted movements of the area of dense volcanic ash.  Based on the latest information, we anticipate that this area will continue to centre on the north west of Scotland and may extend further south into Scottish airspace during today.

Between the period of 0100 – 0700 on 21 April NATS handled 130 flights in airspace over England and Wales and 35 flights in Scottish airspace (including Northern Ireland).  We are in regular contact with the UK airports and airline operators to understand the latest information on flights entering UK airspace and our operation is ready to respond to an increase in demand.

Passengers should contact their airlines to find out how the current situation will affect their travel plans. We anticipate being able to provide a further update late this afternoon.

Previous NATS statements on the Icelandic volcanic eruption can be found archived here.

The Volcanism Blog

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Eyjafjallajökull ash: phased opening of UK airspace from 2100 GMT today 20 April 2010

Posted by admin in eruptions, Eyjafjöll, Iceland.
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The UK’s Civil Aviation Authority has announced a phased re-opening of UK airspace from 22:00 BST (21:00 GMT) today.  To quote from the CAA press release:

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), the UK’s independent specialist regulator with oversight of aviation safety, today issues new guidance on the use of airspace. This is issued in conjunction with the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) and covers the Anglo Irish Functional Airspace Block (FAB).

The new guidance allows a phased reintroduction from 2200 tonight [i.e. 21:00 GMT] of much of the airspace which is currently closed due to the volcanic ash plume over the UK. There will continue to be some ‘no fly zones’ where concentrations of ash are at levels unsafe for flights to take place, but very much smaller than the present restrictions. Furthermore, the Met Office advise that the ‘no fly zones’ do not currently cover the UK.

An answer to the vexed question of how much ash is too much ash seems to have been agreed between the CAA, the Irish aviation authorities, the airlines and the aerospace industry:

The major barrier to resuming flight has been understanding tolerance levels of aircraft to ash. Manufacturers have now agreed increased tolerance levels in low ash density areas.

Our way forward is based on international data and evidence from previous volcanic ash incidents, new data collected from test flights and additional analysis from manufacturers over the past few days. It is a conservative model allowing a significant buffer on top of the level the experts feel may pose a risk.

If the authorities have this right, an end to the Great European Aviation Lockdown may be in sight.

UPDATE: UK air traffic authority NATS promises a statement by 22:00 BST tonight. British minister of transport has announced that all UK airports will re-open from 22:00 BST, says the BBC.

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

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More Eyjafjallajökull images at the NASA Earth Observatory 20 April 2010

Posted by admin in eruptions, Eyjafjöll, Iceland, NASA Earth Observatory.
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The NASA Earth Observatory is doing a superb job in speedily bringing us stunning images of the Eyjafjallajökull eruption from space. Some recent highlights:

Eyjafjallajokull volcanic eruption, 19 April 2010 (NASA image, MODIS/Terra)
Eyjafjallajökull volcano ash plume taken by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite, 19 April 2010.

Eyjafjallajokull eruption, 17 April 2010 (NASA image, ALI/EO-1)
Detailed view of ash plume at Eyjafjallajökull volcano captured by the Advanced Land Imager (ALI) on NASA’s Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) satellite on 17 April 2010.

Eyjafjallajokull eruption, 17 April 2010 (NASA image, MODIS/Aqua)
Thick ash pouring from Eyjafjallajökull volcano in an image from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite acquired, like the image above, on 17 April 2010.

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

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

The Volcanism Blog

Less ash, more lava: Eyjafjallajökull changing its style? 20 April 2010

Posted by admin in activity reports, eruptions, Eyjafjöll, Iceland.
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Eyjafjallajokull from the Hvolsvelli webcam, 20 April 2010
Eyjafjallajökull from the Hvolsvelli webcam, 20 April 2010 at 08:20 GMT.

Yesterday the Icelandic Met Office (IMO) bulletin on Eyjafjallajökull reported that seismic signals indicated that lava flow might be beginning and that the ash-producing phase of the eruption was coming to an end. A change in eruptive style from ash-producing to lava-producing could be under way, Icelandic scientists have suggested.

However, reports of ‘a new ash cloud heading into British airspace’ have meant that plans for a partial resumption of flights from UK airports have been scaled back. The latest Volcanic Ash Advisory from London VAAC, issued at 0600Z today, reports that the eruption plume is reaching 4000 m altitude and lava is visible in the crater, and remarks that there is no significant ash above FL350 (35,000 feet/10,600 metres altitude), and that from 1800Z this evening no significant ash is forecast above FL200 (20,000 feet/6,000 metres altitude). The accompanying maps show a very wide distribution of ash across European and North Atlantic airspace. It’s clear that no easing of the flight bans affecting much of Europe can be expected before this evening at the earliest.

The latest statement from UK air traffic authority NATS, released this morning, is as follows:

The situation regarding the volcanic eruption in Iceland remains dynamic and the latest information from the Met Office shows that the situation today will continue to be variable.

Based on the latest Met Office information, part of Scottish airspace including Aberdeen, Inverness and Edinburgh airports will continue to be available from 1300-1900 today, and also south to Newcastle Airport. Restrictions will remain in place over the rest of UK airspace below 20,000ft.

Overnight the CAA, in line with new guidance from the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) decided flights above the ash cloud will be permitted in the UK; between 1300-1900 this will enable aircraft movements above 20,000ft in UK airspace.

The continuing restrictions on air traffic are highly disruptive and very expensive, and unsurprisingly there are increasing calls for a more ‘measured’ approach, particularly from the affected airlines. Dr Klemetti has more on this at Eruptions, and Chris Rowan has some relevant observations at Highly Allocthonous.

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

News
A more measured reaction to the ashFinancial Times, 19 April 2010
Iceland volcano emits more lava, less ash – Reuters, 20 April 2010
Icelandic volcano ash cloud lower, eruption steady – Reuters, 20 April 2010
New surge of ash from Eyjafjallajokull volcanoThe Times, 20 April 2010
Iceland volcano: latest travel newsDaily Telegraph, 20 April 2010
All quiet on the volcano front: Icelandic volcano still activeIceland Review Online, 20 April 2010
The cost of Europe’s volcanic ash travel crisisTime, 20 April 2010

Information
Global Volcanism Program: Eyjafjöll – summary information for Eyjafjallajökull, which the GVP calls Eyjafjöll (1702-02=)
Met Office: Icelandic volcano eruption – information and updates from the UK Met Office

The Volcanism Blog

Eyjafjallajökull at ‘Eruptions’ (updated) 18 April 2010

Posted by admin in eruptions, Eyjafjöll, Iceland.
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Dr Erik Klemetti of the Eruptions blog deserves some kind of award for his tireless coverage of the Eyjafjallajökull eruption. For an update on the latest from Iceland (as of 17 April 2010) you can’t do better than this.

UPDATE 19 April 2010. A new Eyjafjallajökull post from Erik here: Airlines lobby to reopen European airspace closed by Eyjafjallajökull (and 300+ comments as well).

The Volcanism Blog

Some Eyjafjallajökull links 16 April 2010

Posted by admin in eruptions, Eyjafjöll, Iceland.
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A very useful up-to-date collection of links related to the Eyjafjallajökull eruption can be found here: Eyjafjallajokull links / Liens à propos de l’Eyjafjallajokul.

Thanks to Michel of the French-language Islande 2010 blog (where there is much more Eyjafjallajökull coverage) for putting this collection together.

The Volcanism Blog

Ash across the sea: Eyjafjallajökull’s plume at the NASA Earth Observatory 15 April 2010

Posted by admin in Eyjafjöll, Iceland, NASA Earth Observatory.
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Ash plume across the North Atlantic (NASA Terra MODIS image 15 April 2010)

A dramatic new image at the NASA Earth Observatory shows the reach of the ongoing Eyjafjallajökull eruption. The image, captured by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite on 15 April 2010, shows the brown ash-heavy plume produced by the eruption stretching south-eastwards across the Atlantic from Iceland (top left) to the Shetlands (bottom right). This is the ash that has been disrupting air traffic across northern Europe today.

Ash plume across the North Atlantic – NASA Earth Observatory, 15 April 2010

For more dramatic satellite imagery, see Eruption of Eyjafjallajökull Volcano, Iceland (NASA Earth Observatory) and The Big Picture: Volcanic ash (BBC News).

The Volcanism Blog

Iceland eruption: UK airspace closure extended (updated) 15 April 2010

Posted by admin in activity reports, eruptions, Eyjafjöll, Iceland.
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As a result of the ongoing Eyjafjallajökull-Fimmvörduháls eruption in southern Iceland the UK’s air traffic control organization NATS has extended the closure of United Kingdom airspace announced earlier today. NATS statement:

Statement on Icelandic volcanic eruption: Thurs April 15, 14:00

The cloud of volcanic ash is now spread across the UK and continuing to travel south. In line with international civil aviation policy, no flights other than agreed emergencies are currently permitted in UK controlled airspace. Following a review of the latest Met Office information, NATS advises that these restrictions will remain in place in UK controlled airspace until 0700 (UK time) tomorrow, Friday 16 April, at the earliest. We will review further Met Office information and at 2000 today (UK time) we will advise the arrangements that will be in place through to 1300 (UK time) tomorrow.

We continue to work closely with airports, airlines, and the rest of Europe to understand and mitigate the implications of the volcanic eruption.

As well as the total closure of UK airspace, the ash emissions from the Icelandic eruption are causing extensive disruption across the north Atlantic and northern Europe. The BBC has detailed and up-to-date coverage, and Dr Klemetti has more volcanological insights at the Eruptions blog: Threat of Icelandic ash closes airspace over Europe.

UPDATE – the latest statement from NATS is as follows:

Statement on Icelandic volcanic eruption: Thurs April 15, 20:20

The cloud of volcanic ash continues to cover much of the UK. Following a review of the latest Met Office information, NATS advises that restrictions will remain in place in UK controlled airspace until 1300 (UK time) tomorrow, Friday 16 April, at the earliest.

However, flights from Northern Ireland and the Western Isles of Scotland to and from Glasgow, Edinburgh and Prestwick may be allowed in the period from 0100 (UK time) to 1300 (UK time) tomorrow subject to individual co-ordination. North Atlantic traffic to and from Edinburgh, Glasgow, Prestwick and Belfast may also be allowed in the period.

We will review further Met Office information and at 0230 (UK time) tomorrow we will advise the arrangements that will be in place through to 1800 (UK time) tomorrow. However be aware that the situation cannot be said to be improving with any certainty as the forecast affected area appears to be closing in from east to west. We continue to work closely with airports, airlines, and the rest of Europe to understand and mitigate the implications of the volcanic eruption.

Also, there is news that volcanic ash is arriving in small quantities at ground level in the Shetlands and northern Scotland.

The Volcanism Blog

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

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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.

News
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

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

The Volcanism Blog

Eyjafjallajökull-Fimmvörduháls eruption: NASA satellite imagery 14 April 2010

Posted by admin in activity reports, eruptions, Eyjafjöll, Iceland.
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Fimmvorduhalsi eruption 14 April 2010 (NASA Terra MODIS true colour image)

The latest NASA satellite images of the resurgent Eyjafjallajökull-Fimmvörduháls eruption in southern Iceland can be found via the Rapid Response System site, and are very impressive. The detail above comes from this Terra MODIS image captured on 14 April 2010: the eruption plume (white in colour – almost entirely steam from melted ice and snow) can be seen blowing due east from the seat of the eruption at Fimmvörduháls. The area shown in the image is about 150 km wide.

[Thanks to Robert Simmon of NASA for dropping us a line about the Rapid Response images.]

The Volcanism Blog