I stumbled upon this rather niftly little video of the Eyjafjallajökull ash cloud as it progressed its way across Europe. Hydrodynamics are interesting. The airborne volcanic ash moves in much the same way you might see when you drip ink into water.

(With a nod to The Map Room for converting this from a gif animation into a YouTube video)

The animation shows the ash cloud itself in black, while the yellow shows ash which has falled to the ground and the red shows ash which has fallen due to precipitation. Interesting. Look how closely the red areas follow the black areas. The ash cloud seems to be followed by rain. Perhaps my theory the other day was correct after all.

In any case, things are starting to look hopeful for me actually making it to South Africa. At 15:30 today, the NATS issued the following statement;

The volcanic eruption has reduced and the volcano is not currently emitting ash to altitudes that will affect the UK. Assuming there are no further significant ash emissions we are now looking at a continuously improving situation.

Based on the latest information from the Met Office, NATS advises that the restrictions currently in place across UK controlled airspace will remain in place until 0700 (local time) tomorrow, Tuesday.

From 0700 (local time) tomorrow, Tuesday, Scottish airspace will be open, and south to a line between Teesside and Blackpool. Mainland Scottish airports will be open.

This is a dynamic and changing situation and is therefore difficult to forecast beyond 0700 local; however, the latest Met Office advice is that the contaminated area will continue to move south with the possibility that restrictions to airspace above England and Wales, including the London area, may be lifted later tomorrow (Tuesday).

I’d rebooked my flight for tomorrow at 21:00 (as well as making various rearrangements), so if the air is clear over Heathrow by then, I might even make it to Sutherland to start the observing run on Wednesday night. Given the past few days of watching the news like a hawk and keeping constantly updated on any developments, this comes as a refreshing change. Perhaps things are looking up. Time will tell. In any case, it isn’t quite time to uncross my fingers just yet.

Latest predictions on the ash cloud’s movements are available from the MET office. I have been, and shall continue to be, putting the latest updates on my twitter feed, @InvaderXan. If you’re wondering what my situation is (for whatever reason), that’s probably the best place to check! Alternatively, everyone else in the twitterverse is using the tag #ashtag. to post news and opinions (as well as the usual disarray of garbage and spam).

About Invader Xan

Molecular astrophysicist, usually found writing frenziedly, staring at the sky, or drinking mojitos.
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