Iceland Volcano – The Silver Lining

When Eyjafjallajokull erupted on April 14th no one could have foreseen the havoc it would cause. Although it caused very little harm in Iceland, the effects of the ash cloud have been felt far and wide all over Europe.

The repercussions have caused a ripple effect. As a result of the ash cloud, flights cannot take off as the ash is dangerous to aircraft engines. Without flights, many people are stuck in Europe not able to get out and many are stuck outside unable to get in. When you consider that a majority of these are businessmen, entertainers, doctors, etc the impact of Eyjafjallajokull becomes much more serious.

But there is a silver lining in all of this. Every day of grounded flights means a reduction in carbon emission levels. True, volcanoes also emit carbon dioxide but Eyjafjallajokull’s emissions are in the 15,000 ton range. As of yesterday, the grounding has prevented over 2.8 million tons of carbon dioxide from being released in to the atmosphere. Although this is a small amount by global standards it still remains a blessing in disguise.

However, Eyjafjallajokull will not cool down the planet as previously hoped. The volcano simply does not have the force (so far) to drive the ash cloud into the stratosphere where it could have a long lasting effect. Unlike Mt. Pinatubo in the Philippines, which dropped surface temperatures to drop by almost 1 degree globally in 1991, the Icelandic volcano could only manage to cloud the troposphere. Although the amount of ash coming out of the volcano is now lessening, this has given rise to new fears. Over the last 1,100 years the volcano Katla has always erupted soon after Eyjafjallajokull. The bad news is Katla is far bigger and far more dangerous.