April 16, 2010

Volcanic Eruptions In Iceland Growing Stronger

The erupting Icelandic volcano that disrupted air traffic across Europe early Thursday worsened as the day went on, causing concern for health authorities in several countries.

The volcano, which is located under the ice cap of the Eyjafjallajokull glacier, began erupting early Wednesday morning. As of 5:00pm CDT on Thursday, it not only remained active, spewing forth massive amounts of ash and smoke some 40-hours later, but started to grow even more intense, according to what University of Iceland geophysicist Pall Einarsson told Reuters.

As those eruptions continued, the AFP reported that medical experts in both Norway and Sweden warned of possible health risks caused by the ash. Tom Bellander at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm told news agency TT that the ash could cause irritation to the eyes, nose, and throat, which would be particularly troublesome for those with respiratory problems.

"What we see now at Norwegian stations is elevated methane and elevated CO2, which can be attributed to this eruption," Kjetil Toerseth of the Norwegian Institute for Air Research (NILU) told the AFP's Bjoern Amland. "When the ash and SO2 reach the Norwegian coast, I expect the ash will fall down and you will see"¦ soiling of laundry hanging out or a coating on a freshly-washed car."

Residents near the Eyjafjallajokull volcano had been temporarily evacuated on Thursday, but had been allowed to return home later in the day. The ash has also had a catastrophic effect on European air travel, as strong winds carried it to heights of 30,000 feet and shut down airports in England, Ireland, and other parts of the continent. Flight disruptions were expected to continue into Friday.


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