Studying Abroad in a Gloomy Cloud of Ash

Map of Eyjafjallajökull (left) and Katla (central), 2 separate volcanic systems. Insert shows map of Iceland

Last spring I ventured across the pond with a group of MSU students and professors to study abroad. Our destination was The Netherlands where we would evaluate Dairy Husbandry and Environmental Stewardship. As we counted down the days to departure an unfortunate circumstance took place as a volcano named Eyjafjallajokull erupted on March 21 in Iceland after sitting dormant for over 200 years.

After this volcano’s eruption, large ash clouds formed that spanned out to cover most of northern Europe and cause huge disruptions. The Guardian  news network based out of the United Kingdom stated that “over 20 countries have airspace restrictions, many banning all non-emergency flights”. Our Amazing Planet reported that researchers in Germany did not think it was feasible for ash particles larger than 10 micrometers to stay afloat in the sky more than 500 miles, yet they found ash exceeding 20 micrometers over 1,500 miles away!

Tera K.

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