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29 May 2011

Volcano watching

The Middle Primary class has been looking closely at maps, and the Senior Primary class was very interested in volcanoes last month. Because of the recent eruption of Grimsvötn, many clever people have posted maps, photos, videos and animations on the Internet. We can see the extent and movement of the volcano's ash cloud in real time, and experience the size and power of the eruption far more vividly than if we could only look at  a photo in a newspaper.

This ikiMap evolves in real time. The maps are archived as they are replaced with a more recent version; you can view all the maps here.

Screenshot from Flightradar24.com
This screen shot shows the  map at Flightradar24.  It shows live air traffic, from different parts of the world.  Use your mouse to move the map up to Iceland, and notice (today, 29 May 2011) that there are no planes flying in the area! Use the "ash layer" button to show the ash layer, and predict it's location up to 18 hours into the future.

Screenshot from OgleEarth
On OgleEarth, you can download a kmz file to view the ash cloud with Google Earth.
"Based on data gleaned every six hours from the UK Met office, the resulting network link visualizes ash density from Grimsvötn at different times and airspace heights, and can be played as an animation. Here it is — open in Google Earth."

Meteosat-9 visible channel images
You can see the ash cloud without maps (although we can see blue longitude and latitude lines overlayed on this image) at the Discover Magazine blog, which shows satellite video clips of the ash cloud erupting through the cloud layer over Iceland. (I embedded one image here.  Go to the blog to see the other, and a fine gallery of volcano pictures taken from space.)

Credit: NASA/GSFC/Jeff Schmaltz/MODIS Land Rapid Response Team
There is a Wikipedia page about the eruption. It is illustrated with this NASA MODIS satellite image, acquire at 05:25 UTC on 22 May  2011,  which shows the plume casting shadow to the west.

And of course, we can see many videos on YouTube of the Grimsvötn ash cloud. Here are just 2, one filmed from the air, and one from the ground: