Saturday, April 17, 2010

Eyjafjallajökull and Hrafn Gudmundsson, or how to increase one’s vocabulary overnight

“Volcano Costs Rise as Plume Spreads” screams the headline in an article by Paul Sonne, Daniel Michaels and Kaveri Niththyananthan at the Wall Street Journal’s online site. The subheading “Eruption in Iceland Intensifies Financial Woe for Aviation Industry and Disrupts Travel Plans for Millions of People” is no more comforting. As in all things tragic, the business sector imagines itself to be the true victim.

But ordinary, everyday people could be affected for a very long time. From the article itself:

The volcano continued erupting unabated throughout the day on Friday. Sigurour Gislason, a geochemist at the University of Iceland who collected ash samples Friday, said the plume could linger for days if the eruption continues at current levels.

Hrafn Gudmundsson, a forecaster at the Iceland Meteorological Office, said high-level winds would be constant through Saturday afternoon, carrying ash to the east and southeast. “No one knows, of course, how the volcano will develop, so that’s the big question,” he added. The volcano’s last eruption, in 1821, lasted a year. (italics mine)

(End of quoted material)

To see the effect of Eyjafjallajökull to date, click here.

For me, the volcano has a human face associated with it. I do hope Stephen has been able to return home from Helsinki to Daphne in Leeds.


  1. I read in another article that ship and train travel in the affected areas has increased exponentially. The same report also said that London taxis are being engaged to take passengers as far away as Zurich.

    Mother Nature seems to be making herself known in a particularly spectacular way, which begs the question: Who's been trying to fool her? Not a nice thing to do, you know.

  2. How fickle is the modern world! Back in 1821, international flights continued unabashed. Nowadays it's all health and safety and risk assessment! We could learn a lot from our ancestors.
    By the way, I believe that the suffix "jokull" in the Icelandic language simply means "frozen". The biggest glacier in Iceland is "Vatnajokull" which simply means frozen water.