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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8 Responses to Fallout

  1. invaderxan says:

    Yeah, I’ve heard people from all across the world saying similar things. The airlines were really quite unhelpful in leaving their cancellations until quite late.
    Though, on the bright side, Singapore isn’t a bad place to be stuck I suppose… Still it’s irritating to realise you could’ve had an extra week of “holiday”. :

  2. My aunt who was visiting us in NZ got stuck in Singapore for a week! Nothing about the volcano when she took off leaving NZ, and then when they landed in Singapore her next flight (to Frankfurt) was one of the first canceled! Lame, because if she knew earlier, she could have just stayed longer :-(

  3. madsophia says:

    I used to know, I did learn about it at some point.
    I think it must just be an excess of positively charged electrons?

  4. invaderxan says:

    I think the problem is that it’s mostly below the jet stream. The highest point of the eruption reached around 7-8km high, so around the bottom of the jet stream. You’re right though, it does look to be in the same region. Sadly, there’s nothing in most of these images and visualisations to properly indicate the altitude of the ash…

  5. invaderxan says:

    It’s much more pronounced when it’s dense, which is why you see lightning bolts above the volcanoes itself, though yeah, particles of ash in the atmosphere have a tendancy to precipitate dense clouds…
    I don’t know the actual mechanism behind the lightning… it would be interesting to find out sometime. :)

  6. ryttu3k says:

    Huh… I’m curious, the part going towards Canada looks like it’s following the jet stream, but doesn’t that go in the other direction? Are there wind patterns that override it at different altitudes? I would have thought the jet stream would keep it clearer.

  7. madsophia says:

    don’t things like volcanic ash clouds and forest fires create their own weather, as in lightening and rain?

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