Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Volcanic Ash - Im in ur airspace, groundin ur planez

For those of you who aren't geeky enough to get the title -


Volcanoes are usually on the list of disaster-causing natural hazards that any 6 year old from Titahi Bay School or Cannons Creek School would name. In the earthquakey-lava-erupting sense, they aren't so much of a problem for the Wellington region, though Ruapehu might occasionally ruin your ski season. Our big problem comes from volcanic ash.

From local volcanoes you can get ash coating everything in reach - like this example from near Chaiten in Chile causing serious problems for agriculture.

And then you can get volcanoes in other continents spewing out ash into the atmosphere, which can then be blown across the world, creating a hazard for any aircraft trying to fly through it.

Last year we had an ash cloud thrown up by Eyjafjallajökull (pronounced badly by at least one person as "I'll have a yogurt yurtle"), in Iceland shutting down aircraft travel over much of Europe - costing billion of dollars in lost revenue, and travellers having to work out other ways to get to where they needed to be. Another Icelandic volcano, Grimsvotn, is disrupting their local air traffic right now, and we have the Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcano in Chile doing exactly the same thing to us, all the way over here in NZ.

Our New Zealand volcanoes would have a similar effect when they decide to erupt next.

Unfortunately for us, Chile's volcanoes put out more ash than Iceland's, so this ash cloud may be disrupting our local air traffic for quite some time yet, so look out for low-flying kiwis trying to stay below it.

Some awesome photos from Chile -

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