Roundup: Iceland Eruption, Black Flies and Black Carbon

Insights into Bárðarbunga Volcano from the Holuhraun Rifting Event

From Advancing Earth and Space Science: “The two weeklong rifting event at Bárðarbunga volcano in 2014 led to the Holuhraun eruption, which produced 1.5 km3 of lava and was the largest in Iceland in over 200 years. Predicting when and where an intrusion will lead to eruption requires detailed knowledge of the underlying stress field… Modeling of the 2014 Bárðarbunga rifting event therefore not only yields insights into the event but also provides a window into undetected volcanic activity in the past.”

Find out more about the geology behind one of the biggest eruptions on a glacier-covered volcano here.

Holuhraun eruption
Holuhraun eruption (Source: Iceland/Pinterest).

 

Distribution of Black Flies in the Andes During El Niño

From ScienceDirect: “Vector ecology is a key factor in understanding the transmission of disease agents, with each species having an optimal range of environmental requirements. Scarce data, however, are available for how interactions of local and broad-scale climate phenomena, such as seasonality and the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO), affect simuliids (Black Flies). We, therefore, conducted an exploratory study to examine distribution patterns of species of Simuliidae along an elevational gradient of the Otún River in the Colombian Andes, encompassing four ecoregions. Species richness and occurrence in each ecoregion were influenced by elevation, seasonality, and primarily the warm El Niño and cool La Niña phases of the ENSO. The degree of change differed among ecoregions and was related to physicochemical factors, mainly with stream discharge.”

Read more about the distribution of black flies based on the climatology of the Andes Mountains here.

Black Fly
Simuliids/Black Flies (Source: Kallerna/M.I.I.A).

 

Glacier Retreat of the Tian Shan and Impact on Urban Growth

From IOP Earth and Environmental Science: “The retreat of mountain glaciers, notably in high Asia, provides evidence for the rise of global temperature. Analyses of satellite remote sensing data combined with the ground observations reveal a 37.5% decline of glaciered area from 1989 to 2014 in No.1 Glacier, the headwaters of the Urumqi River basin, Chinese Tian Shan, which could be linked to increased summer melting. We suggest that the decline of glacier area is driven primarily by summer melting and, possibly, linked to the combined effects of the global rise in temperatures and black carbon/CO2 emission from coal-fired power plants, cement plants and petroleum chemical plants from the nearby Urumqi regions.”

Discover more about the glacier melting in Tian Shan Mountains and its impacts here.

Number One Glacier in the mountains outside Urumqi, Xinjiang, China (Source: Remko Tanis/Flickr).

The eruption has begun (We mean it this time)

The Icelandic Met Office announced that an eruption began at midnight, local time, at Holuhraun, north of Dyngjujökull. Lava is emerging on the surface, rather than beneath a glacier, so it is directly visible.

Iceland's volcanic eruption as seen from the air. (source: RUV.is)
Iceland’s volcanic eruption as seen from the air. (source: RUV.is)

http://www.ruv.is/frett/video-of-the-holuhraun-eruption

The lava is being emitted from a fissure about 900 meters long, with what the Civil Protection Authority calls “low lava fountains with thin flowing lava.” The lack of ash means that the risk to aviation at present is small. Had the eruption occurred under the ice, there would have been a much larger risk of an ash cloud like the one in 2010 that halted air traffic for six days.

The Icelandic Met Service had briefly raised the warning level at Bárðarbunga to red, but after a few hours brought it back to orange. There is a small area restricted to aviation, but it does not extend even to the regional airport at Akureyri in the north.

(source: ISAVIA)
(source: ISAVIA)

A webcam from the area at Bárðarbunga does not show much activity, though last night the eruption from Dyngjujökull could be seen in the distance.

Iceland's Dyngjujokull erupts (source: RUV.is)
Iceland’s Dyngjujokull erupts (source: RUV.is)

Authorities are continuing to order an evacuation area north of the glacier. The possibility of an outburst flood cannot entirely be ruled out, even though the magma has moved north of the country’s major glaciers to areas of bare rock.

(source: Morgenbladid Reykjavik)
(source: Morgenbladid Reykjavik)

Though we don’t have many dramatic photos to show at this point, we would like to share a cartoon that appeared yesterday, just before the eruption started.  It comes from a producer of children’s music, who lives on a new volcanic island near the main island of Iceland. You can follow her on twitter at @islandofelska.

(source: Elska/Twitter)
(source: Elska/Twitter)

And we would like to send our thanks to Gísli Pálsson, who sent us an email this morning from Reykjavik to alert us about the eruption. You can read his account of a recent visit to a glacier in a non-volcanic part of Iceland here.