Eyjafjallajokull Ash (Gesundheit!)

Bumped and promoted. Originally posted 2010-04-18 15:09:19 -0400. The "another 24 hours" mentioned in the original posting is now nearly upon us, so expect updates later on the travel restrictions. -- GH

The impact of the ash spewed forth from the Eyjafjallajokull volcano continues to impede travel across northern Europe. According to David Brown and David Byers of the Times Online:

Most of northern Europe will remain a no-fly zone for at least another 24 hours, the Government confirmed tonight, as it emerged that the Royal Navy could be used to help bring stranded people home.

That's one heckuva geological sneeze, but the last eruption of the volcano lasted two years (1821 to 1823). Volcanic eruptions can have even more devastating effects on global climate than any other type of natural phenomena. Quoting USA Today,

Iceland's Laki volcano erupted in 1783, freeing gases that turned into smog. The smog floated across the Jet Stream, changing weather patterns. Many died from gas poisoning in the British Isles. Crop production fell in western Europe. Famine spread. Some even linked the eruption, which helped fuel famine, to the French Revolution. Painters in the 18th century illustrated fiery sunsets in their works.

The winter of 1784 was also one of the longest and coldest on record in North America. New England reported a record stretch of below-zero temperatures and New Jersey reported record snow accumulation. The Mississippi River also reportedly froze in New Orleans.

"These are Hollywood-sort of scenarios but possible," said Colin Macpherson, a geologist with the University of Durham. "As the melt rises, it's a little like taking a cork out of a champagne bottle."

You'd think that in this day and age, we'd be bright enough to think up something called volcano monitoring to try and at least give ourselves a little more information about the issue.

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