Déjà vu?

By Sarah Mills

Airline passengers in Scotland and parts of Northern England face delays and cancelled flights today due to Saturday’s ash eruption from Grímsvötn volcano in Iceland.  These scenes are similar to those in April 2010 when another Icelandic volcano – Eyjafjallajökull – erupted, prompting widespread travel chaos.  However, scientists and commentators expect the disruption to be far less than last year for a number of meteorological reasons and improved aviation regulations.  Transport Secretary Philip Hammond claims authorities have a “much better understanding” of the risks and that “the threshold for most aircraft is 20 times where it was last year…What we can’t promise is that there won’t be disruption when there is a major natural event like this.”

Amy Donovan and Clive Oppenheimer reflected on last year’s Eyjafjallajökull eruption in a recent article in The Geographical Journal.  They reviewed the scientific background of the eruption in the context of European volcanic activity and argued that “the apparent breakdown of communication between scientific research, policy makers and the public is a manifestation of a wider problem”.  Furthermore, they claimed that “transdisciplinary channels for the movement of knowledge beyond the academic community need to be enhanced” (2011: 4).  In light of this new eruption at Grímsvötn, and the supposed provisions and increased levels of governance in planning for such eventualities, the coming days and weeks will reveal to what extent lessons have already been learned.

Read ‘Volcanic ash cloud: thousands face flight delays and cancellations’ in The Guardian  

Read A. Donovan and C. Oppenheimer (2011) The 2010 Eyjafjallajökull eruption and the reconstruction of geography. The Geographical Journal, 177: 4-11.

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