Ash Thursday – the day the UK was planeless

The eruption of a volcano in Iceland has the skies over the UK and Europe filled with ash. Like what happened on 9/11 in the USA, planes are landing everywhere and staying out of the skies. Volcanic ash eats scours jet turbines, making in flight failure almost a certainty.

There’s a cool website called flightradar24.com which is operated by a volunteer network of aviation enthusiasts with special receivers. They describe it as:

Flightradar24.com shows live airplane traffic from different parts around the world. The technique to receive flight information from airplanes is called ADS-B. That means the Flightradar24.com can only show information about airplanes equipped with ADS-B transponders. Today about 60% of the passenger airplanes and only a small amount of military and private airplanes have an ADS-B transponder. Flightradar24.com has a network of about 100 ADS-B receivers around the world that receives the information from airplanes with ADS-B and sends this information to a server, and then displays this information on a map on Flightradar24.com. Only airplanes within the coverage area of the 100 receivers are visible.

Watch as airplanes disappear from the skies over the UK and Europe. Here’s about 8AM PST. Blue X’s are receivers.

Two hours later:

…and at the time of this posting, 2PM PST, with a wider view:

And the ash continues to spread:

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121 thoughts on “Ash Thursday – the day the UK was planeless

  1. I actually watched a site similar to this after 9-11. I dunno if this was the site or not, I cant remember that far back lol. But it was intresting watching all the flights in the US land.

  2. This ash should be named the Phil Jones Cloud of Science. It will remind us that God has a sense of humor and a sense of justice.

  3. I remember watching aircraft investigations on history channel or other, and one of them was the incident of the plane experiencing engine failure and St Elmo’s Fire alll round the aircraft, when travelling through vocanic ash.
    A facinating programme to watch. I think the plane was practically sandblasted of its outer paint, wierd science.

  4. More news:
    The flanks of a major Coronal Mass Ejection – a massive solar explosion which blasted a whole section of the solar corona into space – is heading this way to hit Earth in Weather Action’s predicted RED WEATHER WARNING & MAJOR Solar Weather Impact Period 18-19th April. There will be important weather effects.
    First images* of the dramatic event by Astronomers of Castle Point Astronomy Club (near Southend, Essex) were viewed when Piers Corbyn astrophysicist of WeatherAction long-range forecasters spoke there on 14th April about Climate & Weather forecasting {*Images to be linked soon}
    Piers Corbyn said on 14 April: “This is an important solar event and very significantly the flank of this CME (Coronal Mass Ejection) is predicted by the USA NOAA Space Weather Prediction Centre to hit Earth on 18th April
    http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/today.html
    http://climaterealists.com/?id=5546

  5. You know that any cooling from now on is going to be blamed on the volcano, this is going to be the escape clause.
    “Oh, we were right about the warming, but who could predict that darn volcano? THAT’S why things cooled down!!!!”

  6. I imagine the ash doesn’t do a whole lot of good for cars and other vehicles.
    Grinding compound. The air filter manufacturers will have it good.

  7. Nothing like a little volcanic action to rein in a rampant case of hubris. Let’s hear it from the people in China, Chile, Baja, & Haiti about how all-powerful they consider mankind to be now that they’ve heard the earth speak.

  8. AGW enthusiasts, rejoice! Here is your perfectly good excuse for continuing global cooling for next 15 years!

  9. It’s great!
    I live on the Heathrow flight path and it’s been blissfully quiet.
    Prop planes don’t have a problem – time to get those DC3’s out of mothballs.

  10. Andrew, any rejoicing they may do will be short-lived as the cooling sets in and the people realise that we can’t even hope to alter the climate in the face of nature’s efforts. They might say it’s just temporary and make a lot of noise, but a long run of cooling will simply show that the warming they claimed was “irreversible” and “unprecedented” was neither one nor the other.

  11. See http://scienceblogs.com/catdynamics/2010/04/jkulhlaup.php for some first hand observations and photos.
    Statement on health effects of Icelandic volcanic ash plume
    15 April 2010
    http://www.hpa.org.uk/NewsCentre/NationalPressReleases/2010PressReleases/100415volcanicash/
    The Health Protection Agency is advising that the plume of volcanic ash currently trapped in the atmosphere above the United Kingdom is not a significant risk to public health because it is at high altitude.
    The HPA will continue to monitor the plume’s movement although is not expected to touch ground over the UK in the near future.

    Even if the plume does drop towards the ground the concentrations of particles at ground level are not likely to cause significant effects on health.

    Rainfall over the UK could cause a small amount of the ash to be deposited over the country but quantities are expected to be too small to cause health effects.
    Press enquiries: Contact the Centre for Radiation, Chemical and Environmental Hazards Press Office on 01235 822876/ 822745 or email: chilton.pressoffice@hpa.org.uk

  12. Mike J (14:31:26) :
    Are we likely to see any cooling over Europe over the next 2 or 3 years from this event?

    Not from this alone. Maybe if it keeps it up for a few months. Or causes the more dangerous Katla to erupt.

  13. Andrew Suprun…. couldn’t put it better myself mate. With La Nina rapidly approaching, on top of a continuing reduction in solar intensity (UV, magnetic index etc.), the impending cool decade ahead will be put to rest by a relatively insignificant Icelandic volcano.
    Mind you if this thing keeps going on, we might have effects comparable to Pinatubo in 1991.
    We are very overdue for some decent volcanic activity. The planet hasnt been much fun for vulcanologists the past decade or so!

  14. 9/11 gave us a chance to see what happens to the temperatures without all the jet activity. So can we now compare those results to no jets but lots of ash?
    At least this will be spectacular for true environmentalists. Lots of executives will now have to settle for teleconferencing instead of face-to-face meetings. If it goes on long enough, the executives might get used to not flying at all.
    Hey, anyone here know how we can engineer a volcano to go off near Cancun, later in this year? There’s a bunch of unnecessary luxury jet travel scheduled around the one time that really should be stopped…

  15. CRU has just published new statistical work which shows that this ash cloud caused the global cooling over the last fifteen years.

  16. Very good posting, thanks. I didn’t think that the effect would be so visible in Germany. A friend of mine needs to fly tomorrow across Germany… he’ll be grounded i think.

  17. “kadaka (15:11:35) :
    […]
    Hey, anyone here know how we can engineer a volcano to go off near Cancun, later in this year? There’s a bunch of unnecessary luxury jet travel scheduled around the one time that really should be stopped”
    Just throw enough nukes at the volcano.

  18. Come on guys, you’re all missing the point here. Obviously expansionary heat stress on the Earth’s crust generated by AGW has caused this eruption and the veritable swarm of major earthquakes of recent months. Gaia is angry and is reeking her vengeance.
    But more seriously, does anyone know how high in the atmosphere these plumes are rising? The photos from the previous post seem to show the ash stream below cloud level which would suggest it will settle out before it can generate any climate effects.

  19. Basil (15:05:07) :
    Mike J (14:31:26) :
    Are we likely to see any cooling over Europe over the next 2 or 3 years from this event?
    Not from this alone. Maybe if it keeps it up for a few months. Or causes the more dangerous Katla to erupt.

    Judging by the color of the clouds and their height it’s more likely to cause warming.

  20. Very nice video from Sky News.
    Volcanic Ash Clouds To Head Deep Into Europe
    http://news.sky.com/skynews/Home/UK-News/Iceland-Volcano-Weather-Forecast-Shows-Wind-Pushing-Ash-Clouds-Deep-Into-Europe-Over-Next-24-Hours/Article/201004315603464?lpos=UK_News_Top_Stories_Header_4&lid=ARTICLE_15603464_Iceland_Volcano%3A_Weather_Forecast_Shows_Wind_Pushing_Ash_Clouds_Deep_Into_Europe_Over_Next_24_Hours
    10:24pm UK, Thursday April 15, 2010
    David Williams, Sky News Online
    “Despite huge disruption to British flights, the volcanic ash cloud has not affected our weather.”

  21. Dave Wendt (15:31:37) :
    How does anyone really know what stresses caused the eruption?
    It could just as easily be a weakened magnetic field letting things go.
    We should look for hastily chiseled messages in Pompei and Herculaneum for telltale clues.

  22. Stan (14:54:52) :
    “Prop planes don’t have a problem – time to get those DC3’s out of mothballs.”
    They do. They even have carburetors and all.

  23. Stan (14:54:52) :
    Prop planes don’t have a problem – time to get those DC3’s out of mothballs.

    Props get chewed up, too. Mt St Helens generated a lot of business for the light plane windscreen industry. Not all recip engine planes have air filters, and most of the DC3’s have been fitted with turboprops, which are unfiltered and suffer the same effects as pure jets.
    We used to get re-routes on the Tokyo runs due to volcanoes popping off in Kamchatka and Alaska. You could often see long plumes down below in the 20’s.

  24. I live near a small flight path near Bristol UK.
    Its been really really peaceful today.
    I hope it erupts for about 18 months as it did in 1821. Then I won’t have to listen to the devil mosquitoes all summer.

  25. Why would there be a problem tracking air force one. Like really isn’t it the only aircraft on this planet that receives and transmits every possible protocol in existence? But even if that weren’t the whole case, AFO is probably the only aircraft out there that transmits so much “noise” all the time.

  26. rbateman (15:46:07) :
    Dave Wendt (15:31:37) :
    How does anyone really know what stresses caused the eruption?
    It could just as easily be a weakened magnetic field letting things go.
    We should look for hastily chiseled messages in Pompei and Herculaneum for telltale clues.
    In the words of one my childhood cartoon heroes, Foghorn Leghorn, “it was a joke, son”

  27. rbateman (15:46:07) :
    Iceland is at the pole of rotation of the mid-Atlantic Ridge. Away from the pole of rotation all the lava is erupted on the ocean floor. Due to the very low spreading speed near Iceland all the lava has piled up to form the island. The stresses which are causing the spreading are due to huge convection cells in the mantle.

  28. So, if the eruption last long enough to cause a volcanic winter, where would the effects be seen first?

  29. Mike J (14:31:26) :
    “Are we likely to see any cooling over Europe over the next 2 or 3 years from this event?”
    Basil (15:05:07) [response]:
    “Not from this alone. Maybe if it keeps it up for a few months. Or causes the more dangerous Katla to erupt.”
    So far, the amount of SO2 addition is barely noticeable:
    http://sacs.aeronomie.be/nrt/index.php?Year=2010&Month=04&Day=15&Region=105
    Not weather, but there has been some discussion about HF (Hydrogen fluoride) which Icelandic volcanoes tend to have more of… for some reason. It turns into Hydrofluoric Acid when it mixes with water… (if strong enough, can dissolve glass) and has been known to kill off livestock (along with the shards of silica in the fallout) and cause serious respiratory issues. Last I have heard, no one has a good ash sample yet to find out just how much HF is present.

  30. If this eruption goes on for months or years, will this be the signature of a climate ash hole?

  31. Did the toads give any warning of this? Or is Iceland toad-free and vulnerable?
    In any case, this is quite amazing, especially if it keeps going and/or gets worse. Anything is possible.

  32. And this huge disruption of air traffic is from a (so far) only relatively minor eruption. If there was a Pinatubo-scale eruption in Iceland that went on for several months; and assuming prevailing winds towards Europe most of the time; it would fairly well paralyze much of the continent.
    Note preceding comments by others about cars and piston-engine aircraft are well taken:
    A friend of mine was up in the eastern Cascades with his astronomy club when Mt. Saint Helens blew. They were well outside the direct impact zone, but were close enough that they got significant ash-fall; enough that they had to stop and empty their air cleaners several times: Their cars keep stalling on the long, slow drive out.
    SUMMARY: Modern combustion-powered ”conveniences” do not play well during heavy ash fall; i.e.: Most things that sucks even moderate quantities of air are in trouble. . . . Including humans: breathing ash in any significant quantities not a good plan.

  33. Watch as the Goreacle attributes any resulting cooling to the lack of air traffic and not the volcanic ash.

  34. “Volcanic ash eats scours jet turbines, making in flight failure almost a certainty.”
    It is not the abrasive qualities of volcanic ash that causes turbojet engines to fail, the ash melts as it passes through the burners and then condenses as it cools on its way through the turbine. From the Wikipedia account of the British Airways flight 9 …
    “As the aircraft flew through the ash, it melted in the combustion chamber of the engine and stuck to the inside of the power-plant. As the engine cooled from not running and as the aircraft descended out of the ash cloud, the molten ash solidified and enough broke off to allow air to flow smoothly through the engine allowing a successful restart.”
    http://www.bing.com/reference/semhtml/British_Airways_Flight_9?q=boeing+747+glider+volcano

  35. Strange, the very first thing I thought about when I read this was “What about all of those windmill bearings?” or “How to turn all your power Gray”.
    As a biological scientist I have the same feeling about reliance of “hand to mouth – Green sources of carbon energy”.

  36. An earlier poster stated that FOE were celebrating because a dayfull of evil man-made Co2 thro’ aviation activities had been gained.
    Ignoring the sulphates contribution to ocean “acidification” and other environmentally disruptive contributions from said, but generally unpronounceable, eruption does anyone have any idea of how much of a daily diet of dioxide of carbon is estimated to be added to our ailing and asthmatic atmosphere?
    Is it greater or less than that from human induced aviation transport underpinning society (HIATUS) ?
    Perhaps though, and I’m suspecting this more and more with each day that passes, that irrespective of what that objective, pernickety and pesky handmaiden Science aka Mathematics says, the faux environmental extremist attitude that eshews logic is still streamrollering to destruction everything that true environmental heroes have striven to do!
    False friends do greater harm than eager enemies!

  37. This eruption is to date only sending ash up 20K to 30K feet so although it will have an effect on conditions where aircraft fly, it is not sending particulates or gasses high enough to have an impact on temperatures. It’s those explosive subduction volcanoes that send ash and gas into the stratosphere that have been shown to effect climate – and then only for a year or two.
    Icelandic volcanism is know to have some pretty nasty chemistry though, such as fluorine gas.

  38. You have to be sorry for all the tourists and businesses affected by this. I just went on a trip where my flights were interrupted and it was no fun. As an ex airline pilot you would expect me to take delays in stride but, I am a sorry passenger. I can’t imagine being stuck somewhere I didn’t want to be for 3 or 4 days. Now, stick me in Buffalo Wyoming that long–NICE.

  39. So does anyone know if the 535 AD start of The Dark Ages when Roman records say it started with cold and a dark sky (where you could only dimly see the sun) might have had any eruptions in Iceland?…
    Just wonderin’…
    Francisco (14:33:36) : The flanks of a major Coronal Mass Ejection – a massive solar
    What? the sun being active? How novel! 😉
    Sounds interesting…

  40. Stan (14:54:52) :
    “Prop planes don’t have a problem – time to get those DC3’s out of mothballs.”
    Ran an Air Charter outfit during the1980 eruption of Mt. St. Helens it was not a fun time. Plus I had to fly USGS and Army Corps of Engineers around that still belching monster.
    Lots of Business for overhaul shops and Prop shops that year…

  41. Cam (15:08:07) : We are very overdue for some decent volcanic activity. The planet hasnt been much fun for vulcanologists the past decade or so!
    Be careful what you ask for… Earlier today the California earthquake chart had a count of 2044 quakes on it…
    As I type this, it’s “only” 1977 quakes:
    http://earthquake.usgs.gov/eqcenter/recenteqsus/Maps/US10/32.42.-125.-115.gif
    and we just had a 4.9 in Utah. Yes, Utah. About as far from the pacific plate subduction as you could want. Oh, and Redoubt in Alaska was starting to grumble again, last I checked the volcano status report:
    http://www.volcano.si.edu/reports/usgs/index.cfm
    (Has 18 listed as presently doing something of significance…)

  42. Hopefully this eruption and the meteorite in the Midwest will get CAGW followers to realise there are more serious natural threats to humanity than man’s CO2 emissions.
    I’m allowed to hope ain’t I.

  43. Quoting: Dave Wendt (15:31:37) :
    “But more seriously, does anyone know how high in the atmosphere these plumes are rising?”
    Commenting:
    The estimates I’ve seen are from 4 km to 8 km (about 13,500 ft to 27000 ft). That is to say, about where airliners fly, on average. Particulates, I would imagine, much higher.
    On another subject:
    Volcanoes also put out enormous amounts of CO2. And the “go-to” CO2 monitor is on an island with an active volcano and another “very active” volcano. I’ve always been puzzled about that.

  44. Methow Ken (17:19:44) :
    “…humans: breathing ash in any significant quantities not a good plan.”
    Pliny the Elder died from it during the Vesuvius eruption in 79

  45. I remeber the eruptions of the ’70’s on Iceland. The Icelanders faught back with pumps and sea water. They stopped the lava flows, eventually. I also recall, vividly, the erruption of Mt Ruapehu in New Zealand in 1995, spitting chuncks the size of houses. But there, the flights seemed not to be that much disrupted, they just flew around it. Some of my work mates at the time actiually took off in their cars, drove the 450kms or there abouts, to watch it!!! Crazy Kiwis!

  46. Slightly O.T
    New Scientist 2008
    “A warmer world could be a more explosive one. Global warming is having a much more profound effect than just melting ice caps – it is melting magma too.
    Vatnajökull is the largest ice cap in Iceland, and is disappearing at a rate of 5 cubic kilometres per year.
    Carolina Pagli of the University of Leeds, UK, and Freysteinn Sigmundsson of the University of Iceland have calculated the effects of the melting on the crust and magma underneath.
    They say that, as the ice disappears, it relieves the pressure exerted on the rocks deep under the ice sheet, increasing the rate at which it melts into magma. An average of 1.4 cubic kilometres has been produced every century since 1890, a 10% increase on the background rate.”
    http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn13583-melting-ice-caps-may-trigger-more-volcanic-eruptions.html
    Sigh,…now AGW causes volcanoes…..

  47. E.M.Smith (18:32:58) :
    So does anyone know if the 535 AD start of The Dark Ages when Roman records say it started with cold and a dark sky (where you could only dimly see the sun) might have had any eruptions in Iceland?…
    ————–
    E.M. Smith – I’m a big fan of yours! From pedantics-R-us, however, the term ‘Dark Ages’ was a masterful piece of propaganda invented by the humanists of the Renaissance to describe the less enlightened age between the Renaissance and the Classical period when academic learning of the non-religious kind went into a steep decline in Europe. The Renaissance con-artists wanted to show how much better they were than those who went before.
    Their label shows the typical arrogance of the Roman snobbery against work and anything work related, because Dark Age artisans built the foundations of the modern industrial west. Their thorough adaptation of existing technologies (eg water mills) and invention of new technologies maximized productivity.
    As romantic and apt as it might seem, there was no volcanic eruption or darkened skies that heralded the beginning of this era, which historians often date from anywhere between 450 and 520 A.D. However, one the factors that contributed to the fall of the Roman empire and the beginning of the Dark Ages was the first outbreaks of the bubonic plague: the Athenian plague of 430 B.C. and the Justinianic plague of 542 A.D. These plagues wiped out conservatively around 40% of the population, which is worse than the Black Death of 1350, which wiped out a quarter of the European population. The loss of such a huge sector of humanity led to labour shortages and the de-skilling of European knowledge-workers and experts in a culture where much learning was experiential and word-of-mouth. Shipping and ship-building almost disappeared, for example, and huge sectors of the Roman-European economy vanished, as did most trade and trades, for that matter. This led to a huge drop in the standard of living, which would also feed the Dark Age label. One wonders if we are facing something similar due to the loons in power and the environmental fundamentalists…
    I tell my students that Road Warrior (which I dragged my then-boyfriend to see, not aware of what genre of film I was about to experience) is based on a vision of the world returning to the Dark Ages. Perhaps prophetic? The focus of all the violent encounters and battles is ownership and control of oil and energy.

  48. Re: John from CA (17:09:07) :
    “Any idea why there is so much SO2 over the Arctic?”
    No, but I think it might be an artifact from the satellite’s viewing angle.

  49. Well…I’m stuck in Johannesburg because of this volcano in Iceland. Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam is saying that they don’t expect to be open today, but they are keeping an eye on it.

  50. Well, I am pilot for over 35 years now and I have never ever experienced this:
    NOTAM (notice to airmen) for the Amsterdam FIR:
    TIL 1004161600EST
    DUE TO VOLCANIC ACTIVITY IN ICELAND AND THE RESULTING ASHCLOUDS IN
    THE AMSTERDAM FIR, ALL CIVIL IFR AND VFR OPERATIONS ARE PROHIBITED.
    POLICE, SAR AND HEMS FLIGHTS ARE EXEMPTED. SFC/FL245.
    : NOTAM EH/A0422/10
    There entire airspace, even for small piston aircraft, is closed.

  51. Dave Wendt (15:31:37) :
    Come on guys, you’re all missing the point here. Obviously expansionary heat stress on the Earth’s crust generated by AGW has caused this eruption and the veritable swarm of major earthquakes of recent months. Gaia is angry and is reeking her vengeance.
    rbateman (15:46:07) :
    Dave Wendt (15:31:37) :
    How does anyone really know what stresses caused the eruption?
    It could just as easily be a weakened magnetic field letting things go.
    We should look for hastily chiseled messages in Pompei and Herculaneum for telltale clues.
    In the words of one my childhood cartoon heroes, Foghorn Leghorn, “it was a joke, son”
    Fitzy (19:46:49) :
    Slightly O.T
    New Scientist 2008
    “A warmer world could be a more explosive one. Global warming is having a much more profound effect than just melting ice caps – it is melting magma too.
    Vatnajökull is the largest ice cap in Iceland, and is disappearing at a rate of 5 cubic kilometres per year.
    Carolina Pagli of the University of Leeds, UK, and Freysteinn Sigmundsson of the University of Iceland have calculated the effects of the melting on the crust and magma underneath.
    They say that, as the ice disappears, it relieves the pressure exerted on the rocks deep under the ice sheet, increasing the rate at which it melts into magma. An average of 1.4 cubic kilometres has been produced every century since 1890, a 10% increase on the background rate.”
    http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn13583-melting-ice-caps-may-trigger-more-volcanic-eruptions.html
    Sigh,…now AGW causes volcanoes…..
    I guess it’s official, satirizing these people is now completely impossible!

  52. BBC Radio 2, Breakfast Show with the wonderful Chris Evans. A tad after 7:00am he said something along the lines of Mother Nature having sneeze (or something like it), & the UK air industry grinds to a halt! He followed up quickly with “what on Earth would happen if she had a coughing fit!”. Rather a very subtle way of suggesting that Mother Nature dictates what happens here on old Gaia, not mankind. When will people learn that we do not, & cannot control our environment/atmosphere/climate, only prepare for adaptation & use all our technological advantages over previous incarnations to predict what could happen (without the aid of computer models that is)! Anyway look on the bright side of life, it takes the drudge & boredem off this sloathful election looming ahead. Live long & prosper, hide the decline, whiten that wash, AtB in the PDR of EU. HAGWE everyone.

  53. kwik (22:47:15) :
    So, will we see a CO2 spike on Maona Loa?
    Hardly, as all volcanoes together (and following venting) emit far less CO2 than humans do. Even the Pinatubo eruption didn’t cause a spike, even less increase, as the subsequent cooling caused more extra absorption in the oceans (and more diffuse light increased the production of vegetation).
    West Houston (19:17:24) :
    Quoting: Dave Wendt (15:31:37) :
    On another subject:
    Volcanoes also put out enormous amounts of CO2. And the “go-to” CO2 monitor is on an island with an active volcano and another “very active” volcano. I’ve always been puzzled about that.

    Mauna Loa indeed is on an active volcano, but that only influences the local measurements (+4 ppmv) when there is occasionally downslope wind. The opposite also happens with upslope wind from the valley, slightly depleted (-4 ppmv) by vegetation. These values are “flagged” and not used for daily to yearly averages.
    Other places where “background” CO2 is measured (like the South Pole: no volcano, no vegetation) show the same averages and the same trends within a few ppmv.
    See: http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/klim_img/co2_trends.gif
    far more places measure CO2 (but not all are suitable “background” places):
    http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/iadv/

  54. Hmmm.,
    Looks like it’s crashed :-
    “radar Database hittades inte.webuser”
    which I think is Swedish for not found

  55. Warming advocates have a choice to make, they can say that the volcano was caused by the warmest March on record, or blame it on the colder weather later on, i don’t envy their decision

  56. Minor quibble – in the text the blue X’s/crosses are identified as receivers, they are actually airports.
    Names like ‘Heathrow’, ‘Luton’, ‘Gatwick’, ‘Stansted’ etc would suggest that as the likely answer.

  57. Speed (17:34:40) :
    It is not the abrasive qualities of volcanic ash that causes turbojet engines to fail, the ash melts as it passes through the burners and then condenses as it cools on its way through the turbine. From the Wikipedia account of the British Airways flight 9 …
    It’s the abrasion.
    Whoever wrote that Wiki article doesn’t have the slightest clue how a jet engine works. The compressor turbines are *forward* of the combustion chamber, which is the *final* stage of the engine — everything aft of it is open — and the internal airflow is designed to keep the walls of the combustion chamber *cooler* than the center.
    BA9’s engines flamed out because they ingested so much ash so fast, the ash clogged the intakes — no airflow means no combustion. The pilots managed a relight because they glided down into denser air, which cleaned enough of the ash to allow the airflow through the compressor section and into the combustion chamber.

  58. I think all this activity plus solar is actually due to the very current record breaking geomagnetic status of the sun. I think Anthony has done two or three post on that (hope I’m right… it was geomagnetic?). It certainly is not coincidental

  59. How well do solar panels work when covered in ash?
    Will Hexaflouric (?) acid eat through the panels and stop them working?
    Boy, this could be fun…….

  60. Temps in the US warmed after 9/11 when all the aircraft stopped flying because the jet exhaust induced cirrus cloud cover that reflected some of the incoming solar radiation disappeared resulting in warmer temps.

  61. Now all this volcanic ash from Iceland, most of it surely will end up on the ice, in the Arctic.
    Being a natural event I’m sure there are no negative effects but a little bit of soot, because it is from fossil fuel burning, i.e. man made and thus evil, will probably cause the planet not to warm.
    Now lets be clear, natural ash no warming, fossil fuel soot (far less of it I’d suggest) runaway warming.
    Similarly, CO2 from volcanoes, natural, no warming, CO2 from fossil fuels, man made, evil and hence runaway warming.
    Proof? after volcanic events the planet usually cools. Ergo natural is good, man made is bad. Oh, and don’t forget, Cold is good and warm is bad…. unless warm is due to natural causes and hence automatically evil.
    This may seem silly but the reality is that many of these activists are anti-society, or at least, anti-western society. Good and Bad are determined by the cause. If it is anthropological then the outcome must be bad.
    One theory put forward by a cynic is: AGW melts glaciers. melt water runs off. Weight on mantle reduces causing stress and causing volcanic activity. Volcano then melts glacier and cycle repeats.
    This is the suggestion that the corollary to the above is that any event which is bad must be anthropogenic in origin.
    We can thus state the first two laws of Climate Change:
    The First Law:
    All events with an anthropogenic root cause are bad.
    The Second Law:
    Any event which is bad has an anthropogenic cause.
    The two corollaries are:
    Corollary 1:
    All natural occurring Events are Good.
    Corrolary 2:
    Any event which is good is due to natural causes.
    Thus either the Volcano is a result of man’s activities and is bad for us or it is a result of natural events and is good for us.
    The problem now is to determine which the case. We can either look at causes (difficult in many such events) or we can look at results. In this case if we decide the results are bad then we can deduce it is anthropogenic in origin. If, however, the weight of evidence suggests it is natural in origin then it must be good for us. This sort of dilemma presumably has a simple resolution but we the public are not given the reasoning which allows ecowarriors to make this sort of determination so I guess we will have to wait and see.

  62. Bill, I don’t know if it is the abrasion or clogging (I guess both), but your description of a turbofan is wrong. Cool air enter the compressor stage, go to the combustion chamber, is heated, and exit though the exhaust turbine to produce mechanical work. Then it exit and provide a small (on modern engines) part of the thrust.
    The mechanical power is used to drive the compressor turbine (where do you think it get its power to compress air in the first place? 😉 ) and the fan, which provide the main part of the thrust (yes, modern engines are closer to turboprop than jets, it’s just that the blades are hidden in a nacelle and more numerous)…
    Clogging within or after the combustion chamber wil defintely prevent a turbofan from doing its job…

  63. Or maybe you think of afterburner type of engine, which produce a nice red-hot flame when at full power? Those types of engines are used on military jets, and only for take off, high speed or high-power maneuvre, not cruising. Only commercial aircraft that used it is the concorde (or russian copy), no current airliner use this as it is horribly fuel-inneficient… 😉

  64. Re Dark Ages:
    Does the legend of King Arthur fit into this time frame? Wasn’t there something in that about a dark sky and fire falling to the earth.
    Aren’t they called the Dark Ages because there were so many knights? Sorry, couldn’t resist it.

  65. kwik (22:47:15) :
    So, will we see a CO2 spike on Maona Loa?
    ————————————–
    I wondered that. Wonder if Mt. St. Helens made a spike. Wonder if Maona Loa does indeed show these things.
    Interesting question.

  66. gkai (05:44:30) :
    Bill, I don’t know if it is the abrasion or clogging (I guess both), but your description of a turbofan is wrong. Cool air enter the compressor stage, go to the combustion chamber, is heated, and exit though the exhaust turbine to produce mechanical work. Then it exit and provide a small (on modern engines) part of the thrust.
    I was describing a *jet* engine, not a turbofan. The B-747 series uses a high-bypass turbofan, so you got that and I missed it — a score from the three point line! — but coating the exhaust turbine won’t shut the engine down, and actually clogging it to the point where the exhaust flow is impeded will result in catastrophic compressor stalls and extensive internal damage to the combustion section. Volcanic ash *will* melt in the combustion section of a large jet engine, but the ICAO concern with that is that the stuff will coat the *fuel* nozzles — since the BA9 crew was able to get a relight, the engines didn’t ingest enough for that to occur.
    I still vote for caking in the intakes.

  67. gkai (05:50:10) :
    no current airliner use this as it is horribly fuel-inneficient… 😉
    And it would disturb the passengers if they saw thirty-foot flames shooting out of the engines on takeoff, too…

  68. Bill Tuttle (03:55:41)
    You said, “Whoever wrote that Wiki article doesn’t have the slightest clue how a jet engine works.”
    Perhaps you will be convinced by this from Thomas J. Casadevall, Project Chief, Volcanic Hazards and Aviation Safety, U.S. Geological Survey.
    “Two processes deteriorate engine performance: erosion of moving engine parts, such as compressor and turbine blades, and accumulation of partially melted ash in hot zones of the engine … Ash deposits in the hot sections of the engines, including fuel nozzles, the combustor and turbine reduce the efficiency of fuel mixing and restrict air passing through the engine. This causes surging, flame out and immediate loss of engine thrust. This loss is the principal cause of engine failure.”
    http://www.skybrary.aero/bookshelf/books/358.pdf
    You said, “The compressor turbines are *forward* of the combustion chamber, which is the *final* stage of the engine … ”
    In the aviation industry, “turbine” (or “power turbine”) refers to the wheels and blades that are downstream (generally “aft”) of the burner and extract power from the hot gasses to drive the compressor, fan and accessories. “Compressor” refers to the wheels and blades that compress (imagine that) the incoming air upstream (generally “forward”) of the burner. The above linked article has a nice cutaway drawing showing this.

  69. there was a rapid cooling off here this afternoon to the east of germany. word last night was the ash was around 12,000 ft high. there was a dramatic darkening and then a chill set in here, no sign of ash though. volcanic ash is usually acidic, so you need to be careful wiping it off your auto or you’ll take your paint off with it. wipe with dry clothe, then use moisture infused with soda lightly to touch up your work. it definitely poses a health risk if you breathe it in. stay inside, shut the windows, close the vents. only walk around in it with face masks that filter very fine dust.

  70. boy on a bike:
    absolutely yes, not only will it eat through glass, it will love the silicon-silver combination of photovoltaic cells and should eat nice little holes right through them 🙂
    here’s the poorman’s solution: throw some clear plastic over them.
    if you get dust on your solar panels, wipe them with a dry cloth, then add some baking soda to water and wipe it down with a moist not wet cloth.
    it’s not the end of the world, honest.

  71. Re Vigilantsmith and the Dark Ages: OK this is a bit OT but is relevant to climate. The Dark Ages name remains today, not because of Roman snobbery but the woeful lack of written record. Sure, tremendous advances in technology were made in this period from metalwork to the design of the plough. Many of these technologies originated in East Asia and spread slowly to Europe. The important question is why Europe seized on them so successfully whilst East Asia failed to exploit them. Some technology was lost in the West – for example, the ability to build with concrete which the Romans had done. But nonetheless, the Dark Ages saw a transformation in technology and agricultural practice.
    It is accepted that the ‘Justinian’ plague did immense damage to Europe and North Africa. It was also observed at this time that days had darkened and the Sun was not as strong. There is no good evidence of a volcanic eruption at this time which would produce this effect but it has been suggested that the Earth passed through the tail end of a comet break up. If this is true, it would have had a cooling effect on the Earth. In turn, this would have affected the wildlife of East Africa driving plague carrying rats towards the coast where they hitched a lift into the ‘civilised’ world spreading the plague with their parasites. (I have simplified this process. For the full argument, read ‘Exodus to Arthur’ by Mike Baillie.) It would seem that whilst be might be aware of the huge influence of volcanic activity can have on climate (and therefore, human history) we would be foolish to ignore the effects of our extraterrestial neighbours.
    Just put this in to worry you whilst you are wondering about the next caldera blow out that threatens our very existence. And these guys worry about CO2 – I don’t believe it!

  72. For the first time in my adult life I have seen a cloudless sky with no jet contrails visible. The flight ban is a major inconvenience, but it really make the sky look absolutey wonderful.

  73. Thanks Speed (09:57:11) :
    It is a good read and includes:
    “The most abundant gas typically released into the atmosphere from volcanic systems is water vapor (H20), followed by carbon dioxide (C02) and sulfur dioxide (S02).”

  74. John from CA (10:24:44) :
    Thanks Speed (09:57:11) :
    It is a good read and includes:
    “The most abundant gas typically released into the atmosphere from volcanic systems is water vapor (H20), followed by carbon dioxide (C02) and sulfur dioxide (S02).”

    And as the photographs of the erupting volcanoes show that water vapor rapidly condenses to liquid water! Leaving CO2, SO2 etc. as the remaining gases.

  75. belvedere (11:55:07) :
    You said, ” … water vapor rapidly condenses to liquid water!”
    If it were only that simple. Here is a little bit from Wikipedia to give you a flavor of how complex the various combinations and reactions are in the days, weeks and months following an eruption.
    “Large, explosive volcanic eruptions inject water vapor (H2O), carbon dioxide (CO2), sulfur dioxide (SO2), hydrogen chloride (HCl), hydrogen fluoride (HF) and ash (pulverized rock and pumice) into the stratosphere to heights of 16–32 kilometres (10–20 mi) above the Earth’s surface. The most significant impacts from these injections come from the conversion of sulfur dioxide to sulfuric acid (H2SO4), which condenses rapidly in the stratosphere to form fine sulfate aerosols … The sulfate aerosols also promote complex chemical reactions on their surfaces that alter chlorine and nitrogen chemical species in the stratosphere. This effect, together with increased stratospheric chlorine levels from chlorofluorocarbon pollution, generates chlorine monoxide (ClO), which destroys ozone (O3). As the aerosols grow and coagulate, they settle down into the upper troposphere where they serve as nuclei for cirrus clouds and further modify the Earth’s radiation balance. Most of the hydrogen chloride (HCl) and hydrogen fluoride (HF) are dissolved in water droplets in the eruption cloud and quickly fall to the ground as acid rain. The injected ash also falls rapidly from the stratosphere; most of it is removed within several days to a few weeks. Finally, explosive volcanic eruptions release the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide and thus provide a deep source of carbon for biogeochemical cycles.”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volcano

  76. Speed (07:29:19) :
    Perhaps you will be convinced by this from Thomas J. Casadevall, Project Chief, Volcanic Hazards and Aviation Safety, U.S. Geological Survey.
    “Two processes deteriorate engine performance: erosion of moving engine parts, such as compressor and turbine blades, and accumulation of partially melted ash in hot zones of the engine … Ash deposits in the hot sections of the engines, including fuel nozzles, the combustor and turbine reduce the efficiency of fuel mixing and restrict air passing through the engine. This causes surging, flame out and immediate loss of engine thrust. This loss is the principal cause of engine failure.”

    And that’s all 100% true. However, in the event of an engine failure due to *those* causes, you won’t be able to re-start the engine until the engines are flushed and cleaned — the fuel nozzles will be blocked. And the BA9 crew *was* able to get the engines re-started in mid-air, which leads me to say the cause of the engine failures was reduced airflow in the intakes, rather than melted silica in the combustor or the power turbine section.
    You said, “The compressor turbines are *forward* of the combustion chamber, which is the *final* stage of the engine … ”
    In the aviation industry, “turbine” (or “power turbine”) refers to the wheels and blades that are downstream (generally “aft”) of the burner and extract power from the hot gasses to drive the compressor, fan and accessories.

    In the pilot industry, the blades in the compressor section are called the compressor turbines (do you get the feeling we are rapidly being separated by our common language?).
    “Compressor” refers to the wheels and blades that compress (imagine that) the incoming air upstream (generally “forward”) of the burner. The above linked article has a nice cutaway drawing showing this.
    Yup — wheels and blades. Turbines.
    BTW, I am sooooo stealing your linked articles and cutaway for a couple of classes next month.

  77. anthony.
    best site i’ve found for info on Eyjafjallajokull eruptian.
    http://scienceblogs.com/eruptions/2010/04/eyjafjallajokull_eruption_cont.php
    Quote:-
    To say that the Eyjafjallajökull eruption has become the most significant volcano-related news story of the year would be an understatement. There has been wall-to-wall coverage on every major media outlet, dissecting everything from the effect of ash on jets, to the effect of ash on people, to wildly premature commentary on the climatic effect of the eruption to the potential place in history of this event. The eruption is affecting a wide swath through society: the European economy may take a hit of billions of dollars due to cancelled flights, the funeral for the late Polish president may be delayed, bands heading from Europe to the Coachella festival are having to cancel, and much much (much) more. However, the airspace from Iceland to Russia and as far south as Germany is still closed, with really no end in sight at this moment (although some airlines are trying limited flights).
    Loads of good info and a lively comment stream similar to WUWT.
    john

  78. Perils of flying even NEAR an ash cloud. Apparently 6 (I think) F18 aircraft of the Finnish Air Force flying on a training mission in clear weather yesterday before flight restrictions took place. During the 1 hour flight, several aircraft suffered overheating in the engines. Inspection after landing shows damage from volcanic dust.
    Article in Finnish and interesting photos of damage at…
    http://www.ilmavoimat.fi/index.php?id=1149
    Tried and failed to get english translation, perhaps someone else can do better…..
    john

  79. Bill Tuttle
    First you said, “it’s the abrasion.”
    Then you changed you mind — “the ash clogged the intakes.”
    Then, “the combustion chamber, which is the *final* stage of the engine.” which you later agreed was wrong.
    Then, ” … coating the exhaust turbine won’t shut the engine down.” which you later contradicted with the statement, “And that’s all 100% true.”
    And finally, you said, “BTW, I am sooooo stealing your linked articles and cutaway for a couple of classes next month.” I hope you are taking those classes, not teaching them.

  80. Does anyone know how the ejecta of this event compares to recent events, e.g. Pinatubo, Redoubt?
    I’m looking forward to many beautiful sunsets!

  81. john ratcliffe:
    Thanks for the translation. Otherwise we’d have to rely on Google’s which suggest that the Finnish pilots were flying at far too low an altitude 🙂
    “Machines after the decline in machinery and engines are inspected inlet was observed from potato flour, volcanic ash and dust. “

  82. A link from site linked in the discussion points to a gas analysis conducted on the fissure prior to this burp:
    The gas composition is in the PDF link.
    “The SO2 gas flux produced by the eruption was ~3000 tonnes per day.
    Approximately 70% of the SO2 flux was produced by the fissure which opened on 31st
    March, with ~30% emitted from the 21st March fissure.
    The flux of HF from the eruption was ~30 tonnes per day.
    Gas compositions emitted from the two eruption fissures were broadly similar, being very
    rich in H2O (>80% by mole), <15 % CO2 and <3% SO2.
    Strong variations between 5 and 25 in the SO2/HCl ratio were observed at the 31st March
    fissure on the two measurement days, with higher values observed on 1st April when the
    activity was apparently more intense than 2nd April."
    Lots of nasty stuff.

  83. There’s loads of info available on the ‘Eruptions’ blog-from webcams to near real-time seismography. Worth a look.

  84. Speed (16:54:01) :
    Bill Tuttle
    First you said, “it’s the abrasion.”
    Then you changed you mind — “the ash clogged the intakes.”

    First, I addressed why volcanic ash is hazardous to aircraft, which was a *general* statement.
    Then I responded to the *specific* incident of BA9.
    Then, “the combustion chamber, which is the *final* stage of the engine.” which you later agreed was wrong.
    Yup — the power turbine section and exhaust section both are downstream of the combustion section. And they are structurally unimpeded — *open* at either end.
    Then, ” … coating the exhaust turbine won’t shut the engine down.” which you later contradicted with the statement, “And that’s all 100% true.”
    The entire statement was “Ash deposits in the hot sections of the engines, including fuel nozzles, the combustor and turbine reduce the efficiency of fuel mixing and restrict air passing through the engine. This causes surging, flame out and immediate loss of engine thrust. This loss is the principal cause of engine failure.”
    The entire process of coating *all* of the combustion section and the power turbine are contributing factors, not just individual causes. Coating the power turbine by itself won’t do it, because in the BA9 scenario (in which I addressed the *specific*, not the *general*), coating the power turbine with melted silicate particles, solidifying the particles into chunks, then vibrating *some* of those chunks loose, would have resulted in asymmetrical shedding of those solidified ash chunks from the blades (and they need to be *very* finely-balanced for normal operation), leading to an unbalanced power turbine inducing an oscillation in the axle which would have resulted in — at minimum — internal damage to the power accessory gearboxes, which include the fuel pump.
    Coating of the interior resulting in a restriction of the airflow and coating the fuel nozzles is the *principle* cause of engine failures, but not the *only* cause — restriction in the airflow at the intake will also cause it, and, as I pointed out, coating the combustion chamber will clog the fuel nozzles, and it will be impossible to get an aerial restart. The BA9 crew *did* get an aerial restart, which means the fuel nozzles were *not* clogged — and if you seal a fuel nozzle with half-melted volcanic ash, it *won’t* clear itself in flight.
    And finally, you said, “BTW, I am sooooo stealing your linked articles and cutaway for a couple of classes next month.” I hope you are taking those classes, not teaching them.
    Teaching them. I also teach English comprehension, if you want to sit in.

  85. Bill Tuttle (01:07:49) :
    “The primary mechanism of engine power loss during these high-engine-power and high-ash-concentration exposures is the build up of melted and resolidified ash material on the stage-1 NGV’s [nozzle guide vanes], resulting in flow-area reduction, turbine-efficiency loss, and compressor stall.”

    “Time, altitude, and airspeed permitting, the engine can be restarted by the fuel off/on/off cycles, breaking up the deposit material, which is brittle at low temperatures.”
    http://www.skybrary.aero/bookshelf/books/1162.pdf
    Article begins on page 129.

  86. Speed (06:23:06) :
    “Time, altitude, and airspeed permitting, the engine can be restarted by the fuel off/on/off cycles, breaking up the deposit material, which is brittle at low temperatures.”
    Article begins on page 129.

    But the ace in your hand was on page 92 — it isn’t *vibration* that breaks the re-solidified ash loose, it’s thermal shock from the rapid reduction in temperature, and at 30,000 feet, an engine failure results in a *very* rapid temperature reduction.
    *hat tip*
    You win!

  87. I’ve been on a few UK racecourses this week. Rich trainers, jockeys and owners are still flying merrily in and out (in air taxis, private jets and helicopters) like characters in a Dick Francis novel
    Meanwhile an elderly couple I know who saved for years to go on a world cruise were unable to fly out to join the ship in NY. No doubt there are many such sob stories

  88. Guys, thanks for the mention Herewith more on our (April 18th) WeatherAction long range forecast of the Volcano impacts on European airspace.
    FLIGHT PROBLEMS LIKELY TO CONTINUE TO 26th APRIL WARN LONG RANGE FORECASTERS
    Piers Corbyn of WeatherAction long range Weather, Climate & solar impact forecasters warns their long range European wind maps & predictions of likely solar effects on Iceland volcano spell ongoing trouble for airspace
    http://bit.ly/cPh4YT

  89. I was on a holiday in Sweden and got stranded in the airport for hours. Still, work has to continue so i started working from my laptop –
    I wonder what online tools can help in this situation? I use http://www.verishow.com/ , really useful site for online collaboration.

  90. It has been interesting to observe the early morning clear blue skies without the con-trails of air traffic. There has been no development of high level haze, which usually occurs when air traffic is normal. The skies have remained clear blue.

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