The Icelandic Met Office (IMO), who monitor volcanoes in the country, have been reporting increased seismic activity around the Barðarbunga volcano in Iceland since 16 August.
That activity continued with a small fissure eruption being observed some distance from the volcano in the early hours of Friday (29 August). This led to the IMO raising their ‘aviation colour code’ for the Barðarbunga volcano to Red for a few hours.
This has now been lowered back to Orange after further study of the area revealed the eruption is small and activity is decreasing, with no ash emitted. Under the IMO’s codes, Orange means ‘Volcano shows heightened or escalating unrest with increased potential of eruption’.
The volcanic activity has been variable, with the IMO colour code being briefly Red for Barðarbunga on 29 August and also on 23 August before being downgraded back to Orange.
Another nearby volcano, Askja, is currently Yellow on the IMO code, which means ‘Volcano is exhibiting signs of elevated unrest above known background level’.
The IMO will be continually monitoring the region for any further changes – you can see their latest updates on their website.
The Met Office, as one of nine Volcanic Ash Advisory Centres (VAAC) around the world, will continue to keep in close contact with the IMO. The Met Office has responsibility for forecasting the dispersion of ash originating from volcanic eruptions in the North East Atlantic, primarily in Iceland.
The volcanic ash forecasts are used by airlines, the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) and NATS (National Air Traffic Services) in the UK, as well as aviation organisations around the world, to make decisions on airspace flight management.
Advice will be issued once ash is released into the atmosphere by an eruption and this can be seen on the Met Office’s VAAC pages on our website.
Because the dispersal of any ash would heavily depend on the type and extent of eruption, as well as the prevailing weather and atmospheric conditions at the time, we can’t provide any speculation on where ash may go. If an eruption occurs that releases ash our advice on potential dispersal will be available on our website.
The Met Office will continue to stay in regular contact with the IMO and will keep the CAA fully informed as the UK’s aviation regulator as well as other stakeholders in the UK and abroad.