The 2010 eruption of Iceland's Eyjafjallajökull volcano had a huge impact on air travel, changing the assessment of risk by the aviation sector and catalyzing new lines of scientific investigation. Ash advisories derived from dispersion-model output were issued by the London VAAC, depicting the presence of ash over large parts of Europe and the North Atlantic. Based on those advisories, over 300 airports in about two dozen countries, and a correspondingly large airspace, were closed in Europe during 15-21 April 2010. This resulted in massive impacts on air travel worldwide. Over 100,000 flights were cancelled over that week, affecting 7 million passengers, and resulting in $1.7 billion USD in lost revenue to airlines according to an analysis by Oxford Economics.
To reopen airspace, European aviation authorities endorsed the creation of a new type of concentration chart advisory product that delineated hazard zones based on dispersion model output of ash concentrations. So called 'low' ash concentrations were deemed to be defined as
Also in response to Eyjafjallajökull's impact on air travel, ICAO formed the International Volcanic Ash Task Force (IVATF) in May 2010, charging it to examine how best to define hazardous airspace and manage aviation risk. The IVATF included representatives from government and industry groups involved in aviation regulation, operations, and scientific investigations. The IVATF finished its work in June 2012, and a record of its results is available.
On the scientific front, there has been a notable increase in volcanic-cloud research since Eyjafjallajökull and the Cordon Caulle long-lived ashplume of 2011. A burst of scientific articles has been published, including in special journal issues (Hasager et al, 2010; Langmann et al., 2012). Overall, these eruptions have prompted the aviation industry, regulators, and scientists to work more closely together to improve the manner in which hazardous airspace is defined, forecast, and communicated.
Eyjafjallajokull Case Study
The aim of this 15-minute video is to reflect on the eruption of Eyjafjallajokull in 2010 and to look forward to possible future volcanic eruptions in Iceland. The film shows that, through detailed scientific knowledge and monitoring, the people in Iceland not only understand the threats posed by volcanic eruptions but also see the rich benefits of living in the ‘Land of Fire and Ice’.
In visiting some of the locations affected by the eruption, the video interweaves narrative with incisive interviews of local experts (including geology writer and broadcaster Ari Trausti), stunning archive footage of the eruption itself and supportive maps and diagrams.
In this video, we cover:
- the causes and impacts of the eruption, with visits to some of the localities directly affected
- volcano monitoring and preparedness
- the impacts associated with the future eruption of Katla
- positive impacts of the volcanic eruption on tourism in Iceland
This video is suitable for all ages. It will act as an excellent support in the study of tectonic hazards.
Our new teacher resource video ‘Eyjafjallajokull: a Geography Case Study’ received the Highly Recommended Award at the Scottish Association of Geography Teachers Conference 2016.
Watch the preview below, and view the full video here
Download additional resources
To make the most of this video we have also created some additional teaching resources to use in the classroom - click on the resources below to view and download.
Eyjafjallajokull Worksheet Answers
Eyjafjallajokull Extension Activities Questions
Eyjafjallajokull Extension Activities Answers
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