Irish lower airspace was closed at 0600 GMT because of stronger eruptions at Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull volcano, causing the cancellation of all flights into and out of Ireland’s airports. Also grounded from 1700 GMT on Monday were local flights to the Outer Hebrides islands off Scotland’s north west coast, but the remainder of Scottish airspace was unaffected.
Clearance to resume operations in Irish low level airspace was expected by 1200 GMT, English and Welsh airspace was - and remains - clear at all levels. Upper levels in Irish and Scottish airspace continued throughout the period to be clear for high level flights transiting the sectors.
The problem is being caused by a combination of slightly more vigorous activity from the volcano combined with a fairly static weather system similar to that which brought closure to Europe’s airspace for a week from 17 April.
A high pressure area located to the west of Ireland is carrying volcanic ash south-eastward from Iceland toward Europe, and this situation is forecast to prevail until Thursday, when the wind patterns are expected to shift.
The UK Met Office, in a statement released at 0600 GMT this morning, explains it like this: “There appears to have been little change in the volcanic activity at Eyjafjallajokull overnight [Monday/Tuesday]. The plume is still estimated to be erupting to a height of approximately 18,000 feet (5,500m), and spreading southeastwards. There was a report received from South Uist [Hebrides] Monday evening of a milky sky, and in the early hours [Tuesday] of aerosol [airborne particles] on their laser CBR at 9000ft.”
This level of volcanic activity contrasts with eruptions that projected ash to 30,000ft to close Europe’s airspace, and weaker eruptions emitting dust to less than 10,000ft most of the time since aviation activity was cleared to resume.