Icelandic volcano ash could reach UK by tomorrow

May 23, 2011
Eliot Sefton

But disruption from Grimsvotn eruption is unlikely to be on the scale of last year’s Eyjafjallajokull chaos (with video)

Ash from Grimsvotn, an Icelandic volcano that is experiencing its biggest eruption in 100 years, could reach the British Isles by the early hours of Tuesday morning, the Met Office has confirmed.

The volcano has already forced the closure of Iceland's Keflavik airport. Flight disruption across UK airspace is possible, but not inevitable.

• Pic of the day: Grimsvotn volcanic ash cloud

The Grimsvotn eruption was predicted by Icelandic scientists last November, as reported in The First Post. It comes a year after another Icelandic volcano, Eyjafjallajokull, caused the closure of large tracts of European airspace and stranded millions of travellers.

However, this time around, more is known about the effects of ash on aeroplane engines, which means there is likely to be far less disruption. In addition, the ash particles from Grimsvotn are thought to be larger and will therefore not travel as far as last year.

Dr Dave McGarvie, a volcanologist at the Open University, told the Guardian: "The experience gained from the 2010 eruption, especially by the Met Office, the airline industry, and the engine manufacturers, should mean less disruption to travellers."

University of Iceland geophysicist Pall Einarsson told the BBC that Grimsvotn is different to Eyjafjallajokull.

"It is not likely to be anything on the scale that was produced last year… That was an unusual volcano, an unusual ash size distribution and unusual weather pattern, which all conspired together to make life difficult in Europe."

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