Friday, 16 April 2010

No airplanes


The ash escaping from the Icelandic volcano is still affecting flights in the UK. This afternoon I took this photo of a clear blue sky with no airplanes or contrails. We live just over thirty miles from Heathrow so you wouldn't think that we would really notice the lack of flights over the past couple of days but we have.

A large number of planes fly over this area, my husband has flown over the village several times when returning from America, but they are not very low at this stage and so I don't give them much thought although depending on weather conditions we do see a lot of contrails. This is a photo I took one morning.




Today, when I was in the garden I thought it was quieter than usual but wondered if I was imagining it. Then my son came out and commented on how quiet it was. I think we must somehow filter out the background noise and it is only now it is not there that we notice the difference. We also see military helicopters on exercises, these fly low and are very noisy but they have been absent too.

After the terrorist attacks of 9/11, flights were suspended for three days and scientists recorded an increase in temperature due to the absence of airplane contrails in the atmosphere. The water vapour in the trails reflects some sunlight back out into space so that less reaches the earths surface so when there are no trails, more sunlight gets through and the temperature increases. I wonder if the same effect will be seen due to the current flight cancellations or will the volcanic ash in the atmosphere have the opposite effect reducing the amount of sunlight reaching the earth. I find it interesting to see how one event, the eruption of the volcano in Iceland, has such far reaching effects.

For the sake of the many thousands who have had their plans disrupted I hope this cloud of ash disperses and that they are soon able to travel safely. There will be no flights from London airports tomorrow so it will be another day of waiting around for passengers but for those of us on the ground, another quiet day with clear skies.

4 comments:

tree shadow moon said...

I didn't think about that aspect - it must be really quiet for those living near airports. I didn't realise about the change in temperatures, fascinating how that works!

Enjoy the quiet :)

Heather L. said...

Michael's been keeping me updated on the news from ClassicFM. In a way, it must be so nice to have some quiet and clear skies -- but I know we all feel for everyone who is stuck! I hear the trainlines are overloaded! i have a friend in Australia hoping to get back to Scotland on Monday -- I guess she'll just have to wait and see.

sensiblevermonter said...

What an interesting idea you bring up about the minor temperature changes. I wouldn't be surprised if it remained unchanged for this reason: a layer of ash will filter out the sun, cooling the atmosphere, but you brought up the increase in temperature due to the lack of trails. Think they will cancel each other out? I find this situation very, VERY interesting on a scientific scale. I feel terrible for everyone getting held up by lack of transportation, but I hope you can enjoy these couple of quiet days you have. :)

Ben229 said...

Hi, I'm studying Illustration at Bournemouth Arts Uni & i'm currently creating illustrations based on the lack of planes in the Uk after the iceland earthquake. Would it be okay if I used some of your photography from this blog? It's just for a Uni project and no profit will be made. Regards, Ben.