I realise that the volcano that is currently erupting in Iceland has caused a lot of problems for a lot of people.
However, if I can see one plus side it’s all the impromptu atmospheric science that is going on around it. For example, the first paper about the volcano, which is looking at the electric charge of the ash plume from balloon measurements taken over Scotland, has just been published. [As an interesting aside, one the instruments that was used in this work uses the plastic case that holds the toy in a Kinder Egg!]
This is remarkably quick work. To collect data in April and then publish a paper in May is almost unheard of.
There’s plenty more examples of this and I’m sure lots of interesting science will emerge in the coming years as a result of this unforeseen event.
In Manchester where I work, a lot of people have put their usual work to one side to concentrate on the plume. One of my colleagues is currently in the Shetland Isles repairing an instrument that we moved up there last month to observe the plume and many others are away manning instruments on research planes that are investigating the plume or analysing the data that has been collected.
This is all an inconvenience and big projects are getting delayed but many people are working really hard to understand the ash cloud and are finding out new things along the way. So it’s not all bad.