Iceland’s active volcano, Eyjafjallajokull, has caused quite a commotion. It erupted in March and sent a sea of ash and smoke into the atmosphere, leaving many European air travelers stranded and Iceland natives boarded up in their houses.
According to CNN, the eruption began beneath the Eyjafjallajokull glacier in southern Iceland, blowing a hole in the ice. Earlier this month, it forced local evacuations, and more recently, it caused a complete mess in air travel. The majority of the ash is made up of tiny particles of rock, glass and sand, which pose a serious threat to traveling aircrafts.
In Florida, European-bound travelers leaving from Orlando International Airport were grounded because the United Kingdom and other European countries ordered all flights to and from the continent to be halted until further notice.
Flights are poised to resume, but it should not be rushed. With a cloud of dangerous smoke hanging over Europe, nations should err on the side of caution before resuming normal traffic.
According to the Boston Herald, air travel hasn’t been this paralyzed since the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.
The White House announced that President Barack Obama canceled his trip to Poland for the funeral of President Lech Kaczynski because of the eruption.
While the future of European air control is halted, the effects of Eyjafjallajokull on the world’s environment should also be considered. The volcano continues to erupt ash into the atmosphere, and it’s not clear when it will end. The eruption released dangerous gases, including sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide and hydrogen fluoride.
Over time, sulfur from volcanoes has the potential to cool the Earth and block the sun’s rays when mixed with water in the air. The reduction in sunlight can reduce temperatures for a year or so, according to MSNBC.
According to Slate, if the eruptions last for an extended period of time, like Iceland’s eight-month Laki fissure eruption in 1783, the result would create a noticeable cooling effect.
Ultimately, the main concern is ensuring safe flights. Though many are frustrated and stuck inside airports across Europe, it’s better than forcing travel and risking disaster.
Hopefully, the strength of the ash will dissipate the further it spreads. The U.S., along with other countries around the world, needs to take note of the impact this natural disaster could cause. Right now, the most important thing is to ensure safety of travelers and the Earth.
Naomi Prioleau is a junior majoring in mass communications.