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Archive for March 21st, 2010

Volcano erupts near Eyjafjallajoekull, Iceland

Posted by feww on March 21, 2010

Eruption near Eyjafjallajoekull glacier first in 190 years

There were no reports of injuries or damage as a result of the  eruption, as of posting; however, a state of emergency has been declared in the townships near the Eyjafjallajokull glacier.

The towns of Fljotshlio and Markarfljot have been evacuated. NO fly zone has been imposed, covering much of Icelandic airspace.

Local experts are concerned that the eruption could trigger a larger and more dangerous eruption at Katla volcano which is located about 25 km to the east of the eruptive fissure.

Aerial photo shows molten lava venting  from a fissure near the Eyjafjallajokull glacier south of Iceland. The eruption ejected  molten lava and ash into the air early Sunday March 21, 2010. It was the first major eruption in the area in almost two centuries. (AP Photo/Ragnar Axelsson). Image may be subject to copyright. See Fire-Earth Fair Use Notice. Click image to enlarge.

“This was a rather small and peaceful eruption but we are concerned that it could trigger an eruption at the nearby Katla volcano, a vicious volcano that could cause both local and global damage,” said Pall Einarsson, a geophysicist at the University of Iceland’s Institute of Earth Science, AP reported.

“We estimate that no one is in danger in the area but we have started an evacuation plan and between 500 and 600 people are being evacuated,” Sigurgeir Gudmundsson of the Icelandic civil protections department told the AFP.

The eruption occurred about 23:30UTC Saturday (7:30 pm ET) near the Eyjafjallajokull glacier, Iceland.

The eruption was first believed to have occurred beneath the glacier, prompting fears of flooding that could potentially come from glacier melt, but aerial survey early Sunday showed that the eruption had actually occurred close to but not beneath the glacier.

Eyjafjallajoekullis is one of Iceland’s smaller glaciers

Map of Iceland with the location of Eyjafjallajoekull glacier marked. Click image to enlarge.

“The eruption is a small one,” said Agust Gunnar Gylfason at the Civil Protection Department, AP reported.

“An eruption in and close to this glacier can be dangerous due to possible flooding if the fissure forms under the glacier,” he said. “That is why we initiated our disaster response plan.”

“Ash has already begun to fall in Fljotshlid and people in the surrounding area have reported seeing bright lights emanating from the glacier,” RUV public radio said on its website.

Iceland’s Civil Aviation authorities imposed a 120 nautical miles (220km) no-fly zone away from the volcano, which covers most of Icelandic airspace.

At least 3 Icelandair flights, bound for Reykjavik from the US, were  ordered to return to Boston, RUV radio reported.

The last volcanic eruption near Eyjafjallajoekull glacier occurred 189 years ago in 1821 and again in 1823.

Freeze frame from Iceland TV footage.


Located on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, a divergent tectonic plate boundary along the floor of the Atlantic Ocean, Iceland is geologically and volcanically active island with numerous volcanoes. Iceland has a population of about a third of a million with a total area of 103,000 sq km (39,769 sq mi).

Iceland is essentially an arctic desert dotted with with volcanoes, mountains and glaciers. A rim of agricultural areas in the lowlands sit close to the coastline. Iceland is made habitable by the Gulf Stream.

Eyjafjallajokull Glacier

Eyjafjallajokull Glacier – The glacier is located about 120km (75 miles) east of Reykjavik and covers a 1,666-m high volcano of the same name. GNU License.

Seismic Activity and Swelling observed since January

“This event has had a long prelude in earthquake activity,” Einarsson told The Associated Press. “The volcano has been inflating since the beginning of the year, both rising and swelling.

“One of the possible scenarios we’re looking at is that this small eruption could bring about something bigger.”

“This is the best possible place for an eruption,” said Tumi Gudumundsson, a geologist at the University of Iceland, relived that the Eyjafjoll volcano which is buried beneath  the Eyjafjallajoekull glacier had not erupted.

Automatic Earthquake Location Map of Iceland.  Most of the recent seismic activity has occurred near the  Eyjafjallajokull Glacier, with a few shock occurring close to the position of Katla, which is buried under the Myrdalsjökull icecap.  ©The Icelandic Meteorological Office

Explosion at Laki (Lakagigar) Volcanic fissure

A destructive eruption at Laki volcano, which occurred over an 8-month period in 1783–1784, ejected about 14 cubic km (3.4 cu mi) of basalt lava and plumes of poisonous hydrofluoric acid and sulfur-dioxide gas that lead to a famine in Iceland. About a quarter of the population and half of all livestock perished. Dust clouds covered most of Europe and parts of Eurasia and Africa for a year.

Few Facts about Icelandic Volcanoes

  • Iceland is home to about 130 volcanoes, 18 of which have erupted since about 1,000 years ago.
  • Eruption from Iceland’s volcanoes have produced more than 30 percent of the total lava output globally, since the 1500s.
  • The Laki eruption in 1783-1784 produced he largest volume of lava in the last 500 years.
  • An eruption of Eldgjá in 934 CE produced twice as much lava as did Laki.

Related Links:

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Your Worst Fears About El Niño

Posted by feww on March 21, 2010

Worst fears about El Niño may come true

The El Niño, formally known as the El Niño-Southern Oscillation, or “ENSO” for short, is the most significant cause of large-scale climate variability in the tropics. El Niño episodes bring warmer than normal waters to the central and eastern Pacific Ocean from Indonesia in the western end to South America in the eastern end of the  ocean, helping to maintain the above-normal sea surface temperatures.

Figure below shows one of these Kelvin Waves progressing across the Pacific in February 2010.

Kelvin Wave Renews El Niño

The globes show sea surface height anomalies, which means places where the water surface is higher (red) or lower (blue) than average. A higher-than-average sea surface height at a given location indicates that there is a deeper-than-normal layer of warm water. Lower-than-average sea surface height indicates a shallower layer of warm water. The globes are based on 10 days of data centered on January 15, January 30, and February 15.

In January (left-hand globe), sea surface heights across the central and eastern equatorial Pacific were elevated (red), but not extremely so, potentially a sign that El Niño was weakening. But in early February, a strong sea level anomaly appeared northeast of Australia (center globe). This swell of deep, warm water is the start of the Kelvin wave, and by late February, it had spread eastward into the central Pacific (right-hand globe) and re-invigorated the current El Niño.

Where do Kelvin waves come from? Under normal conditions, the tropics’ prevailing easterly winds push Sun-warmed surface waters across the Pacific from the Americas toward Indonesia, creating a deep pool of warm water in the western Pacific. During an El Niño, the trade winds falter, and sometimes even reverse, for months. When the winds that maintain the warm pool falter, a large pulse of warm water from the western Pacific slides back toward the east. NASA Earth Observatory images by Jesse Allen, Kevin Ward, and Robert Simmon. Caption by Rebecca Lindsey, based on interpretation provided by Josh Willis and Bill Patzert, NASA JPL.

Related Links

  • El Niño [Main Page, Links to Weekly Updates Archive]

Posted in El Niño episode, ENSO, Equatorial Pacific, Kelvin Waves, Trade winds | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »


Posted by feww on March 21, 2010

Cyclone ULUI brought heavy rainfall, flooding to areas between Bowen and St Lawrence, Australia.

ULUI is losing intensity rapidly and is now at tropical storm strength, with winds of about 63 km/hr (34 kt) Australia’s BOM reported.

Tropical Cyclone ULUI – Visible [postcard]  image – MTSAT 1R – Dated March 21, 2010 at 00:00UTC.   Source: Digital Typhoon.  Click image to enlarge.

“At 8:00 am EST Ex-Tropical Cyclone Ului, was estimated to be overland 120 kilometres west southwest of Bowen and 60 kilometres west of Collinsville and moving west southwest at 26 kilometres per hour.” BOM reported.

Readers who have had training as government employees and are familiar with bureaucratic cross-referencing may be able to extract more information from Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology website; however, they appear to have issued their last warning concerning ULUI.

Unless ULUI re-intensifies, this entry would be Fire-Earth’s final update on ULUI.

Related Links:

For additional images click on the following links:

How ULUI was born:

ULUI History and Related Links:

TC ULUI, ULUI,  | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in storm, STORM ULUI, TC ULUI, ULUI, ULUI landfall | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »