September 2014 – ICELAND – People on Norway’s coast have reported a strong smell of sulfur in the air this week, and experts say it’s coming from a surprising source: Iceland’s Bardarbunga volcano, 800 miles away. Bardarbunga sits about seven miles under the Dyngjujökull glacier, which is more than 800 miles west, and across the Atlantic, from Norway. But as Vibeke Thyness at the Norwegian Medical Institute told Norway’s public broadcasting radio station, NRK, weather, along with a very active few weeks at the volcano, have likely combined to push the sulfur into Norway’s air space. “This is quite a large spill,” Thyness tells NRK. She explained that high pressure over Scotland, along with wind and only a little rain, has made it possible for the fumes to travel so far. While Thyness said the fumes themselves aren’t something that will endanger the public in Norway, the Iceland Review said residents in eastern Iceland have complained about sore throats, stinging eyes and headaches. The news agency said families were told to avoid being outside for long periods of time, particularly children and people with respiratory illnesses. Bjorn Saevar Einarsson, a meteorologist at the Icelandic Met Office, points to a satellite image that clearly shows how far the concentration of sulfur pollution has traveled.
Sara Barsotti, a volcanologist with the Icelandic Met Office, told the Wall Street Journal gas emissions at the eruption site have measured very high this week. Workers there are now required to wear gas masks as well as personal gas monitors. Volcanic activity at Iceland’s Bardarbunga volcano has escalated since mid-August, as increasingly powerful earthquakes shake the region. The lava eruption first started Aug. 31. Impressive photos from NASA and the Earth Observatory show the lava footprint at the Holuhran lava field has also continued to grow. Scientists also noted several large new fissures had formed along the surface, as well as a telltale caldera. That caldera has been sinking beneath the surface as much as 3 feet a day. The airline industry has kept close watch on the situation because the volcano sits in a vital flight path from the United Kingdom to America. No one wants a replay of 2010 when Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokul volcano erupted and sparked a week of international aviation chaos, canceling some 100,000 flights and closing European air space for five days. The current airline alert level remains at orange, as earthquakes continue to shake the region. –TWC