April 16th, 2010
01:53 PM ET

Volcanic ash: What to know, how it impacts you

Volcanic ash clouds have snarled travel around the globe.

Volcanic ash from Iceland is snarling air traffic across Europe, causing more than 16,000 flights to be canceled, according to the intergovernmental body that manages European air travel.

The ash cloud originated from an eruption under an Icelandic glacier that began early Wednesday. The eruption under the Eyjafjallajokull glacier - the latest in a series that began on March 20 - blew a hole in the mass of ice and created a cloud of smoke and ash that went high into the air.

And it's causing lots of headaches around the world. Many travelers have been left in limbo - stuck where they are - without any idea of when they may be able to head home, to see loved ones in the hospital or make it to planned events.

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Some of them say they've been getting conflicting information from representatives of the airlines, airports and through e-mail messages about cancellations.

Hopefully, that's where we can help. We're tracking the latest developments in airport closures, openings and cancellations for you here.

And the problems don't stop with air travel - rail and ferry services across Europe have been swamped by thousands of frustrated passengers forced to seek alternate modes of transportation.

Everyday travelers aren't the only ones struggling to make it to where they need to be - some bands are scrambling to find flights from Europe to Coachella festival.

And what do you do if you're the Norwegian prime minister and your stuck? Well, there's an app - I mean, iPad - for that. Jens Stoltenberg told CNN he used his iPad to manage the situation at home when Norway closed its airspace under threat from the ash.

Because the ash from the volcanic eruption is too dangerous for aircrafts to fly through it, those on the ground may be concerned about health effects when the ash falls to earth, but experts say there is little to worry about. How bad it gets over the next few days may have to do more with the weather - and the wind - than anything else.

There could be long time effects from the ash cloud however, if previous events are any indication. Rosanne D'Arrigo says a 1783 eruption in Iceland killed many, lowered temperatures and caused starvation in far-away places around the world, an indication of the impact such events can have around the globe.

soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. Aussie Guy

    Change your flight destination, forget drab 'ol Europe.....it's a boring place anyway....

    Bright sunshine, cloud free skies in Australia!

    C;mon down under, the weather is always spot on this time of year, especially in Queensland.

    You will be so glad you made the destination change...you won't want to leave once your here....

    Onya mate!

    April 17, 2010 at 8:48 am | Report abuse |
  2. Uchechukwu

    Volcanoes are sources of mercury. The mercury usually enters the natural water and gets converted into methyl mercury which is toxic to human’s beings and bioaccumulates in the food chain. This eruption may lead to serious mercury infiltration and pollution of the natural water. Unfortunately the mercury continues to stay for long and easily get into oily fish. Fish oil and fish meal made from contaminated fish are dangerous to both humans and animals. One will remember the case of Minamata disaster in China long ago. Mercury contamination can lead to brain disorders and cancer and all sorts of sickness. The eruption is simple bad BUT THE WORST SEEMS TO BE AHEAD, from the toxic pollution it will cause.

    April 17, 2010 at 9:06 am | Report abuse |
  3. jhel Villaruel

    The current events from iceland to china is a sign that mother nature is already affected by the distruction we made and her body is reacting..the sad truth is..it is reacting violently.

    April 17, 2010 at 9:09 am | Report abuse |
  4. susan smith

    I remember the ash from Mt. St. Helen's also. It coated our windshields on our cars and we did not know what was happening. Grand Junction CO

    April 17, 2010 at 10:33 am | Report abuse |
  5. sarah wilson

    we live in the town beside stansted airport. it is so wierd to not see or hear aircraft. i actually notice the birds now...more than usual. there does seem to b a slight purple hue in the air...in the otherwise glorious sunshine...the whole experience is wierd...

    April 17, 2010 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
  6. Bruce Petty

    Interested in seeing how economics of Europe will be effected, not only airlines but tourism, industrial, government and military defense of countries effected. If the volcano keeps pumping out ash for six months or two years, this can very well cause a global economic problem.

    I live near a volcano, Mt Shasta in Northern California. We very well know that it can go off at any time.

    April 17, 2010 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
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