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back to article Volcanic ash grounds dozens of UK flights

Hundreds of passengers are likely to be stranded this morning as a volcanic ash plume has grounded flights across the country. The plume, from a volcano in Iceland, could take several days to clear. The ash can be thick enough to knock out jet engines. Currently Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow airports are closed and 90 per …

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IT?

Another general news article. Please stick to IT news.

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: IT?

I hate you.

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Stop

It's very important news...

...if you're a travelling IT consultant.

Well, you won't be today.

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@Sarah Bee

I love you.

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Headmaster

I double-hate you

AC - I presume you are in the UK and not flying anywhere?

For those of us whom are neither of those things, the ability of websites to fall over in a slight breeze gives the Ash Cloud of Death(TM) on IT angle.

I now have an Ash Cloud of Death(TM) folder on my Mac with maps and hotel info for Philadelphia. Anyone got any tourist tips? Like, how much does a coin-operated laundrette cost in the US?

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FAIL

Umm....

...it was filed under "Physics". You could maybe argue that it should have been filed under "Geology", "Meteorology" or even "Geography"...but that's it. It's deffo news, it's deffo important.

If you don't want to read the non-IT news, can I suggest you stay out of the non-IT areas or simply not click on them?

Is using your brain simply too much to ask?

I am sure Ms. Bee has contemplated finding me and slapping me on a few occasions; but I hope nothing I have said or done has been as vacuous and pointless as your derisive missive.

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IT Angle

Icon?

You didn't even use the correct icon, numpty

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Dream on......

"I am sure Ms. Bee has contemplated finding me and slapping me on a few occasions"

Why should you be singled out as the lucky one?

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Go

I work...

I work in the Travel Technology industry. So this is IT news to me.

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Coat

Laundrette cost

To buy or to rent? Depends on the location...

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Unhappy

Tell me about it ...

just had my flight to Boston this afternoon cancelled. Major drag. Still, safety first.

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Anonymous Coward

This is crazy

It's the airline equivalent of leaves on the line.

I can understand the problem of flying through the cloud...but can't they just fly over/under or around it? What about going to Europe, why are those flights cancelled? It's in the opposite direction.

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Too risky

It's not like leaves on the line, it's more like ignoring the possibility of fallen trees on the line. But even deadlier. Do you want to risk being in a plane without any working engines?

A cloud of volcanic ash is not easily visible like a thundercloud, so the pilot can't just look out of the window and know whether under / over / around is possible. The best case forgetting it wrong is overheated and damaged engines that cost the airline huge amounts of money to repair (or scrap). The worst case is that the plane becomes a rather poor glider and has to ditch.

Read up about the BA jumbo that very nearly crashed when it flew into a cloud of volcanic ash that the pilots did not know was there. (A new erruption, and back in the days before there was a global monitoring network for this hazard). The engines were total write-off. That the plane managed to land was a near-miracle. At low altitude (over the ocean!) the plane had dropped into clean air and the pilots managed to re-start some engines and limp to the nearest airport.

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Have you seen the size of this cloud?

It covers most of scotland, northern england and ireland, you plonker.

Volcanic ash is particularly dangerous to aircraft engines because of its size, shape and texture (its basically like taking a sandblaster to the engine only with sand that will strip metal in a matter of minutes) and has been responsible for a number of crashes and significantly more midair engine shutdowns. And those engines that do survive a clash with a volcanic ash cloud are likely to need months of overhaul to make them servicable again.

Seriously, safety has to come first in this instance, if you dont see that somethings wrong with you...

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Not Possible

You can't fly over it, and the dense lower atmosphere would make it difficult and slow to fly under it, assuming you know its lower bound. More birds lower down as well, increasing other types of hazard. You can't see it on radar, so you wouldn't know for certain where it is.

The cloud is drifting down towards Europe, so the safe zone is shifting all the time.

On the bright side, if we can get enough volcanic dust into the atmosphere, it'll cool the Earth a bit and make all the global warming fanatics re-fudge their calculations.

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Flight paths

Pilots are supposed to stick to flight paths (this includes the height ) to prevent them bumping into each other (doing that will really jack up your insurance as well as buggering up your day). At 350 MPH, you will travel the length of a football pitch between something coming into view and your brain realising it.

If they go too low, it will upset people on the ground with the noise (I also believe that it burns more fuel). There is a limit to how high they can go with the standard engines, as the higher you go, the lower the air pressure which could cause engines to cut out.

It always sounds like someone is being over protective, until the first aircraft slams into the ground at high speed, leaving a large hole. Then everyone starts screaming about businesses putting "profits before safety".

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WTF?

No

"...but can't they just fly over/under or around it?"

The Ash cloud is between 6,000m ~11,000m.

A commercial airliner has a cruising altitude of 12,000m.

That's great I hear you scream, we can fly over it!

Except you have to go from 0m-12,000m to get there which takes you right through the cloud.

And as for going around it, have a look at the pictures on the VAAC site http://metoffice.com/aviation/vaac/data/VAG_1271250039.png and suggest what alternate route you would take.

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Grenade

Great

They nick all of our money - and now close down all our airports. Nuke 'em its the only way to be safe

on the plus side we might get Bjork as well

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Anonymous Coward

Twitter

There is a funny quote on Twitter that read:

"Hey Iceland, we said send CASH!"

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Black Helicopters

Whom

do I sue?

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Linux

Thor

That's whom you should sue.

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Wrong god.

Probably not Thor.

The Greeks had a god of volcanoes, Hephaestus by name.

There doesn't appear to be a god of volcahoes in the Norse pantheon, nor even a god of fire. Perhaps they sub-contracted the work (which might explain a lot). As might Loki's involvement.

http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Who_was_the_god_of_fire_in_Norse_mythology

(And/or read Gaiman's "American Gods")

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Rain

Bearing in mind the miserable state of the Icelandic climate, I doubt there was much need for a god of fire. Icelandic folklore tends to associate volcanoes with underground fire giants. Surtr, leader of the jötunn who help bring about the end of the World would be a good bet for any writs. Surtsey, the island created in a 1963 is named after him.

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Do you thinks its cause we want the money back???

Nothing here - move along.

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In the clouds

Given how many data centres are sited in Iceland, does that mean The Cloud is truly going up in the air?

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Welcome

Oh dear

Currently on the wrong side of the Atlantic. Manchester Airport website currently in Kate Moss mode i.e. pretty thin. Deploying British pluck - any brandy left in the mini-bar?

Not welcoming our ash-bearing overlords!!

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Act of God, apparently

So the airlines are apparently claiming this as an Act of God and any passengers on cancelled flights will have to pay again!

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Bollox

At least for BA - YMMV if booked with (e.g.) LyanAir:

http://www.britishairways.com/travel/flightops/public/en_gb?p_faqid=4002

"Customers booked to travel on a cancelled flight can claim a full refund or [...] If you wish to travel to your original destination, you may re-book on another British Airways or BA franchise flight at your convenience, subject to availability."

In any case additional costs would be covered by insurance - you do have travel insurance, don't you?

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Happy

I love nature

Just need Yellowstone park to go super volcano, an asteroid hitting new Zealand and the LHC to start spewing forth demonic hell hounds and my weekend'll be made up.

Oh, and a crap load of class A's.

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Alien

Dont

forget to buy a crowbar and a HEV suit while you're at it

Its really aliens getting ready to clense the fifth of humanity from the face of the planet, and speaking as a cockroach, thats can only be a good thing

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Happy

I love nature too

But I don't think the LHC is a natural phenomenon.

Or did I miss a major advance in biological technology and it was actually grown?

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Unhappy

Fuck Iceland

Trying to rearrange my flight to Hong Kong (which, if i'm not mistaken, is in the opposite direction). First they take all our savings and lose them, then they pollute our air with their volcanic ash. Fuck Iceland.

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Anonymous Coward

The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

I still want all my stolen cod back from the '70s.

I'm not one for bearing grudges, but...GRRR!

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Grenade

Time to invade Iceland

First they lose all our savings in the whole 'Icesave' collapse and now they're sending their nasty ashes over here!!!

Let's go north to take care of business!

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Coat

Hey...

Last time you poms got the ashes, you were over the moon. There's no pleasing some people....

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Joke

Recruiting Mother Nature to do their dirty work

Guess this is Iceland's answer to the recent pressure from UK and NL to PAY BACK THE DAMN MONEY THEY OWE US - they've recruited Mother Nature to exert some pressure and 'persuade' us to back off.

To quote Jack Straw; "We do not, have not, and will not respond to blackmail or intimidation tactics". Hear that, Mother N? Now go tell your boss to get on the wire transfer sharpish, there's a good henchwoman.

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Stop

Don't jest about Icelandic volcanoes

Mother nature in Iceland is a hellish bitch. One should hope that she stays asleep during our lifetimes (this erruption is the merest twitch).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volcanism_of_Iceland

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laki

1783: 20% of the Icelandic population killed. 20,000 killed in the UK (which back then had a population of a few million). Major climatological consequences in both Europe and the USA.

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WTF?

Do you have a reference for that?

>>1783: 20% of the Icelandic population killed. 20,000 killed in the UK

I did a quick Google and couldn't find any such figures in respect of the UK, at least.

If you are referring to the indirect consequences, due to crop failures and subsequent food supply problems, you are probably making an implicit, invalid comparison. Today, the price of food might rise as a result of such an eruption; but it almost certainly would not become significantly scarcer - in the UK, at least.

Cheers

Peredur

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reference?

The reference is linked in my post - the wiki one about Laki.

It's an estimate of the number killed immediately by SO2 and HF inhalation. The following year was the "Year without a summer", and the widespread famine claimed many more. It's not certain that Laki was the sole cause thereof, but it can't have helped.

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Controversial

Whilst there is no doubt that the Laki eruption had a catastrophic effect on human, animal and plant life in Iceland; the Grattan paper is controversial. There are very wide differences in the estimates of sulfur produced by Laki which would affect how much damage it could have done. Also because the summer of 1783 was freakishly hot and that would have pushed mortality well above trend.

It is a fascinating paper though and well worth a read.

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what about props?

are props affected by this then?

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Boffin

Short answer - Yes

For two reasons - 1 it will do a damn good job of stripping the propellors, and 2 - Props still make use of turbines in order to power the prop, the air being sucked into the turbines will still be laden with volcanic ash and will still go about destroying the internals.

Id almost guess that props are even more endangered because the ash will probably do a fine job on the props bearings too. But thats speculation.

The only way i can think prpos might be ok is if they flew below the ash cloud but the problem with ash is that its bloody hard to see the cloud in the first place until you fly into it (its not like a regular cloud), so it might be risky to try...

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Electrics

I'm pretty sure volcanic ash is conductive too so it screws up electrics if it gets in.

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Happy

Typical

Britain brought to it's knees again, by a smokescreen.

ALF

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several days?

I hear that some interviewer asking an Icelander about it was rather shocked by the response that last time it took 2 years to finish erupting...

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Two years

Wouldn't be uncommon for an Icelandic eruption, but the plume is a short term phenomenon as the gassy magma at the top of the chamber reaches the surface. Assuming the eruption continues for any length of time, the volcano will become much less explosive and become dominated by large-scale lava flows.

It's certainly going to bugger for travel and tourism around Southern Iceland even if there isn't a jökulhlaup (glacier burst). Eyjafjallajokull is right next to the main road into the gorgeous national park and forest of Þórsmörk.

Still, according to the latest seismic data, Katla under the much larger Mýrdalsjökull ice sheet hasn't started waking up. The last time it erupted in 1918, the jökulhlaup extended the Mýrdalssandur coastline by 5km and the ash poisoned animals in Northern Ireland.

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Coat

Eyjafjallajokull etc..

Umm I think your keyboard is b0rken.

Coat? mine is the one with the nose filters and heel pumps thanks.

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Pirate

Invasion

Its all part of a big conspiracy. Theyre fish built economy isnt enough. Theyre planning to invade. First they disrupt our finances and supply lines, now they ground our aircraft. Theyll be pillaging and plundering Scotland before the year is out. Yarrr.

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I for one

... suggest going to Reykjavijk with colossal cigars, and littering their streets with ash.

See how they like it!

Actually, I'm realistic about it. It's a natural phenomenon. A royal pain in the bum, but nothing can really be done about it. Even if it does fuck up my weekend plans to pop back to Blighty.

/needs 'meh' icon

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More importantly....

Will my Sky TV be knackered this evening? Signal is marginal when it rains heavily, and I want to watch the mass-debators on ITV (I've not got that new fangled freeview thing).

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