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May 25, 2011

Volcano Cloud Dissipates, but Airlines Still Cancel Hundreds of Flights

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Written by: BNO News
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European airlines on Wednesday were forced to again cancel hundreds of flights while experts say the ash cloud coverage is expected to soon dissipate.

Flights canceled

According to the Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC) in London, areas of ash concentration were over northern Germany on Wednesday, resulting in approximately 450 flights being canceled in German airspace.

The airports most affected were in Bremen, Hamburg, and Berlin, but the disruption was not as severe as was initially feared. “The German airports are currently fully accessible again,” Eurocontrol, the agency charged with coordinating air traffic management across Europe, said.

According to the VAAC forecasts, it is expected that ash cloud coverage will dissipate on late Wednesday evening. “Tomorrow, we do not expect any significant impact on European airspace,” Eurocontrol said.

The ash plume is coming from Grímsvötn, Iceland’s most active volcano, which erupted on late Saturday afternoon at around 5.30 p.m. local time. It is believed to be the volcano’s largest eruption in about 100 years.

“The volcanic tremors recorded from Grímsvötn has dropped significantly since yesterday,” the Icelandic Met Office said on Wednesday. “The largest pulse of increased explosive activity was observed at around 02:00 AM last night.”

The office said the volcano’s activity is now concentrated at two small vents surrounded by a thin circle of tephra. “The eruption plume drifted slowly southwards but ash fell down from the plume into a brownish layer of ash which spread out over southern Iceland beneath a steady layer of air, located at 2-3 kilometers (1.2 – 1.8 miles) height above sea level.”

On Tuesday, dozens of airlines were forced to cancel more than 500 flights in Scotland, Greenland and Iceland as a result of the ash clouds. It led to some chaos, but not as severe as during last year’s eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano.

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