Dramatic Sunsets at Stonehenge due to Volcanic ash

18 04 2010

Stonehenge is in line for some spectacular sunsets as the sun’s rays reflect off the volcanic particles, creating beautiful skies around Salisbury plain and Wiltshire.



Dramatic: Volcanic ash can bring out dramatic pinks and purples during sunset, as shown by the latest erupting volcano in Iceland

While yesterday’s eruption caused chaos for travellers, some scientists said there could be an unexpected upside to the phenomenon.

But there were further downsides as motorists were told to look out for a layer of ash on their cars from remnants of the explosion. There could also be colder temperatures as tiny particles of ash high in the atmosphere block out light from the sun.

Red sky at night: The sun sets over Heathrow Airport as an ash cloud from an Icelandic volcano grounded all flights
Forecaster Jonathan Powell said: ‘Long-term, the eruption could well have a long term affect on global weather patterns. Cloud particles, basically minuscule grains of crushed rock and glass, can remain in the atmosphere for many years.

‘The Mount Pinatubo eruption of 1991 went on to cool the global climate by just under half a degree, although that volcano was on a much larger scale.’

eather forecaster Brendan Jones from MeteoGroup, said: ‘If you look back in history there have been some periods where the weather has been changed by big volcanic eruptions like Mount Tambora and Mount St Helens.

‘They have been proved to lower temperatures. There is so much ash in the atmosphere that it reduces the amount of sunlight getting to the ground.’

‘If the ash remains in our atmosphere for weeks or months it can reduce temperatures slightly but we are talking about fractions of degrees.’

But while experts said the ash could irritate conditions such as asthma, it was not expected to cause major health problems.

Volcanologist Dr Dougal Jerram said: ‘The high altitude of this plume above the UK means that it is air traffic that will suffer most.’

More powerful eruptions can emit large amounts of poisonous sulphur dioxide that is much more hazardous to health.

Volcanic ash can also create the appearance of a blue moon, if the particles are the right size (experts say that means one millionth of a metre or a micron).

However, ash thrown up into the atmosphere usually contains a mixture of particles with a wide range of sizes, which tends to scatter blue light so a reddish moon is more likely.

Experts fear the eruption of Eyjafjallajokull, which has sent this cloud of ash into the sky, could trigger a much larger explosion of nearby Mount Katla.

Katla is described as ‘enormously powerful’, and because it lies under a glacier its eruption would cause a huge glacial outburst flood and could spread its shadow over a much larger area.

The Mount Tambora eruption in 1816 caused such a drop in temperatures that it became known as ‘the year with no summer’.

Crops failed due to low daytime temperatures, late frosts and abnormally high rainfall, provoking food riots, famine and disease.

In Ireland, rain fell on 142 days that summer and across France the grape harvest was virtually non-existent.

In North America there was snow in June and lakes and rivers froze as far south as Pennsylvania during July and August. am passing through nature

Merlin @ Stonehenge
Stonehenge Stone Circle

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