Eyjafjallajökull continues to disrupt European air travel
As the eruption continues, the periodic ash disruptions to air travel may be the pattern for Europe over the summer.
I write the Eruptions blog on Big Think. I've been mesmerized with volcanoes (and geology) all my life. It helps that part of my family comes from the shadow of Nevado del Ruiz in Colombia, where I could see first hand the deadly effects of volcanic eruptions. Since then, I've taken a bit of a winding path to become a volcanologist. I started as a history major at Williams College, almost went into radio, but ended up migrating to geology, including an undergraduate thesis on Vinalhaven Island, Maine. I followed this up by changing coast to get my Ph.D. from Oregon State University. Then I ran a MC-ICP-MS lab at University of Washington for a spell (and wrote for an indie rock website). I spent three years as a postdoctoral scholar at University of California - Davis studying the inner workings of magmatic systems. I am now an assistant professor at Denison University and have projects in New Zealand, Chile and Oregon.
I am fascinated by volcanoes, their eruptions and how those eruptions interact with the people who live around the volcanoes. I started this blog after getting frustrated with the news reports of volcanic eruptions. Most of them get the information wrong and/or are just sensationalistic. I will try to summarize eruptions as they occur, translate some of the volcanic processes that are happening and comment on the reports themselves.
And no matter what people tell you, I definitely do not have a cat named Tephra. (OK, I do).
You can find out more about my research by visiting my website. If you have any comments, questions or information, feel free to contact me at eruptionsblog at gmail dot com.
Over the weekend, the newly reinvigorated ash eruptions from Eyjafjallajökull combined with favorable winds meant that ash from the eruption closed airspace over swaths of Europe, including Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Austria and Germany. These disruptions are continuing into the new week, although most of the disruption is for transatlantic flights. However, the threat of ash is more present than ever, as Ryanair admitted to finding that two planes had ash in the engines (although at first, the airline said they were "separate technical problems unrelated to the Icelandic eruption.") This looks like the pattern Europe may have to face over the summer: if the volcano continues on this pattern of explosive, strombolian-to-plinian style eruptions that can produce significant ash and the winds turn towards the continent, air travel will be disrupted. Some airlines are already seeing the effect of the ash on their business and this is likely to continue as people make plans for their vacations or their swanky film festivals.\n\n
As for Eyjafjallajökull, the eruption is continuing on with impressive strombolian explosions (see above) in the main vent area and the continued, slow progress of the lava flow down the flank of the volcano. Dr. Joe Licciardi sent me a few more pictures where the two plumes - one mostly steam from the lava flow melting ice, one mostly ash from the active vent - can be plainly seen (see top and thermal image below). The ash production from the volcano has tapered over the weekend, but the plume is nevertheless still impressive (see at the bottom), reaching 4-6 km (14,000-20,000 feet) in height. The Icelandic Met Office says that the eruptive rate has been decreasing over the past week as the volcano has deflated, but the eruption have become spasmodic with burst of increased activity. However, none of this suggests that the eruption is anywhere close to an end.\n\n
The BBC has jumped onto the "Katla-mongering" bandwagon today as well, with a new article that offers nothing new to anyone who has been following the eruption - more or less, there is an interesting and unproven connection between the two volcano's eruptive activity. What bugs me about this article is in the first paragraph, the writer chose to say "some reports suggest that another, much larger, volcano could stir in the near future." (my emphasis). To me, this implies we have evidence right now that something is going on at Katla. The article, however, merely talks about what geologists are suggesting might happen. It is word choice like this (that I, too, fall prey to) that is very important when talking about volcanic hazards.\n\n
\nThe ash plume from Eyjafjallajökull as seen on May 8, 2010.
Explore how alcohol affects your brain, from the first sip at the bar to life-long drinking habits.
- Alcohol is the world's most popular drug and has been a part of human culture for at least 9,000 years.
- Alcohol's effects on the brain range from temporarily limiting mental activity to sustained brain damage, depending on levels consumed and frequency of use.
- Understanding how alcohol affects your brain can help you determine what drinking habits are best for you.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx a team of DNA sequencers has figured that out.
- A team at UMass Amherst recently sequenced the genome of the Canadian lynx.
- It's part of a project intending to sequence the genome of every vertebrate in the world.
- Conservationists interested in the Canadian lynx have a new tool to work with.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx, I can now—as of this month—point you directly to the DNA of a Canadian lynx, and say, "That's what makes a lynx a lynx." The genome was sequenced by a team at UMass Amherst, and it's one of 15 animals whose genomes have been sequenced by the Vertebrate Genomes Project, whose stated goal is to sequence the genome of all 66,000 vertebrate species in the world.
Sequencing the genome of a particular species of an animal is important in terms of preserving genetic diversity. Future generations don't necessarily have to worry about our memory of the Canadian Lynx warping the way hearsay warped perception a long time ago.
Artwork: Guillaume le Clerc / Wikimedia Commons
13th-century fantastical depiction of an elephant.
It is easy to see how one can look at 66,000 genomic sequences stored away as being the analogous equivalent of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. It is a potential tool for future conservationists.
But what are the practicalities of sequencing the genome of a lynx beyond engaging with broad bioethical questions? As the animal's habitat shrinks and Earth warms, the Canadian lynx is demonstrating less genetic diversity. Cross-breeding with bobcats in some portions of the lynx's habitat also represents a challenge to the lynx's genetic makeup. The two themselves are also linked: warming climates could drive Canadian lynxes to cross-breed with bobcats.
John Organ, chief of the U.S. Geological Survey's Cooperative Fish and Wildlife units, said to MassLive that the results of the sequencing "can help us look at land conservation strategies to help maintain lynx on the landscape."
What does DNA have to do with land conservation strategies? Consider the fact that the food found in a landscape, the toxins found in a landscape, or the exposure to drugs can have an impact on genetic activity. That potential change can be transmitted down the generative line. If you know exactly how a lynx's DNA is impacted by something, then the environment they occupy can be fine-tuned to meet the needs of the lynx and any other creature that happens to inhabit that particular portion of the earth.
Given that the Trump administration is considering withdrawing protection for the Canadian lynx, a move that caught scientists by surprise, it is worth having as much information on hand as possible for those who have an interest in preserving the health of this creature—all the way down to the building blocks of a lynx's life.
The exploding popularity of the keto diet puts a less used veggie into the spotlight.
- The cauliflower is a vegetable of choice if you're on the keto diet.
- The plant is low in carbs and can replace potatoes, rice and pasta.
- It can be eaten both raw and cooked for different benefits.
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