The Great Debate UK

Why volcanoes are likely to continue to cause chaos in Europe

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By Dr Andy Hooper. The opinions expressed are his own.

Within the space of just over a year, aircraft have now been grounded in Europe twice by ash blowing in from Iceland.  This has caused many millions of pounds of disruption.

A key question uppermost in many minds is whether the frequency of eruptions in Iceland is increasing. The short answer here is ‘yes, probably’. But, it is not just the frequency of eruptions that matters.  To impact the airspace of the United Kingdom and continental Europe, the ash has to be ejected high enough, and be fine enough that it can remain airborne for days.  Then the winds have to conspire to push it towards Europe, and the winds blow over Iceland from the north only a small fraction of the time.

Studies by researchers at the University of Iceland have noted that the frequency of eruptions from volcanoes beneath the Vatnajökull ice cap (including Grímsvötn, which erupted in May this year) seems to wax and wane with a cycle of about 140 years.

Prior to the 1980s, there were no such eruptions from these volcanoes for over 40 years and there have now been four within 15 years.  The reason for the apparent cyclicity is not established but, in any case, we appear very likely to have entered a phase of more eruptions.

from Business Traveller:

The right type of travel writing?

Travel writer and newspaper columnist A.A. Gill told listeners of BBC Radio 4’s Excess Baggage programme last week that he doesn’t do research, doesn’t take notes and considers himself a rather superficial traveller, a tripper.

Whatever his methods, not many writers can so succinctly drill down into a destination simply using well-honed observational skills. Gill seems to know by osmosis who best to chat with while dashing around a destination – and somehow plans his visit at a particularly prescient moment in time.

Seeking the silver lining in a volcanic ash cloud

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Rachel Andrew- Dr Rachel Andrew is a clinical psychologist working for the NHS in Lancashire. The opinions expressed are her own. -

I spoke to Sophie, a good friend of mine, on Wednesday.

She is currently stranded in Majorca, Spain, as a consequence of the volcanic ash from Iceland. When I asked her how she was feeling about her situation she replied, “I’m feeling great.”

Travellers could feel long-lasting impact of volcano disruption

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RobertBor- Professor Robert Bor is a clinical psychologist with a special interest in aviation and  travel psychology. He has published several books on this topic. The opinions expressed are his own. -

The opening of UK airspace on Wednesday will clearly bring some relief to travellers stranded around the world. For others, their misery and feelings of fear and uncertainty will continue well after they have returned home, and that could be still a few weeks for now.

Why the Icelandic volcano could herald even more disruption

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Andy_Hooper- Dr Andrew Hooper is an Assistant Professor at Delft University of Technology and is an expert on monitoring deformation of Icelandic volcanoes. The opinions expressed are his own. -

The unprecedented no-fly zone currently in force across much of Europe has already caused the greatest chaos to air travel since the Second World War.  Thousands of flights have been cancelled or postponed with millions of travel plans affected.

from The Great Debate:

Icelandic, Greek sagas show sovereign risks

-- James Saft is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own. --

Developments in cash-strapped Iceland and Greece nicely illustrate two themes for 2010: sovereign risk and financial balkanization.

Iceland is balking at crushing terms demanded as part of its making whole overseas depositors in its ruined banking system, while Greece is involved in a game of chicken with the euro zone authorities over how, when and with whose assistance it heals its fiscal difficulties.

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