By Steven Goddard
As reported on WUWT, The UK Met Office is taking a lot of heat for airline financial loses, caused by no flight rules during the Icelandic volcanic eruption. Many readers have expressed their agreement with those criticisms.
I don’t agree with all of these criticisms, and here is why.
Suppose you are taking a ten hour 8:30 PM flight from Seattle to London. You pass Iceland eight hours into the flight, and ash conditions may have changed dramatically since you left. A new volcanic eruption may have occurred overnight, and your plane is almost out of fuel. No matter how accurate the circulation models are, they can not predict the behaviour of the volcano. The modelers and the people in charge of decision making have to be conservative.
Do you want to be on a plane over the frigid waters of the North Atlantic, which can’t progress forward and does not have enough fuel to turn back? I know I don’t. Erupting volcanoes can change in the blink of an eye, as people near Seattle found out at 8:32 AM on May 18, 1980. There is always going to be some risk, but this particular volcano has been spewing out a lot of ash and deserves particular caution.
Now that enough information has been gathered, the decision has been made to restore the flight schedules. It has been a very long week for travelers, but in terms of the required science and engineering – seven days isn’t very long when making life or death decisions.