Killer Cloud

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History Documentary hosted by Michael Praed and published by BBC broadcasted as part of BBC Timewatch series in 2007 - English narration

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Image: Killer-Cloud-Cover.jpg

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A volcanic eruption in Iceland which started in 1783 may have had a direct effect on the UK and parts of Western Europe.

The gases, sulphuric acid aerosols, and possibly ash from the eruption were carried over Britain by the weather systems at that time.

This 8 month-long eruption from a line of volcanic vents 27 km in length, known as a fissure eruption, also produced the largest lava flow on Earth of the past 1000 years, which covered about 500 square kilometres in southern Iceland.

The Laki eruption was not the first time that such an eruption occurred in Iceland. An even larger one happened around the years AD 935-940. It released more gases, and produced more ash and lava, than Laki, but apart from the evidence from the lava flows and fissure cones themselves, it has been difficult to interpret the degree of effects that this eruption, known as Eldgjá, had on the atmosphere and environment of the northern hemisphere.

Volcano historian and climatologist Richard Stothers of NASA Goddard Institute of Space Studies, New York, published a summary in 1998 of what little can be gleaned from the few written sources dating from those Dark Ages.

Before the AD 930 eruption and up to the time of the Laki eruption, there were also several other smaller eruptions of this type in Iceland, but they released much less ash, sulphur dioxide, and other gases.

When will there be another large eruption in Iceland?

With such few cases of past eruptions to go by, it is difficult to predict when or how big the next occurrence of a similar eruption will be, but one thing is certain, it will happen. Actually, as fair a prediction as any might be that it could be any day now!

It could be next week (unlikely, as there should be some precursor effects such as earthquakes and no anomalous ones are currently being reported), or next year, or five hundred years from now.

Britons may take comfort in not having an active volcano here on our islands, but the one frequently active area that could have a direct effect here on a time scale to which we can relate is Iceland and its many restless volcanoes.

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Image: Killer-Cloud-Screen0.jpg

[edit] Technical Specs

GSpot v2.5b8 avi file details:

  • Filename.....: Timewatch.2007-01-19.Killer_Cloud.OU_BBC.WS.DVBC.XviD-ACP.avi
  • Filesize.....: 586,710,054 bytes [= 1/8th DVD]
  • Runtime......: 00:48:18 (72452 frames)
  • Video Codec..: XviD (B-VOP/No QPel/No GMC)
  • Video Bitrate: 1479 kbps
  • Aspect Ratio.: 624x352 (1.77) [=39:22]
  • Framerate....: 25.000 fps
  • Audio Codec..: 0x0055(MP3, ISO) MPEG-1 Layer 3
  • Audio Bitrate: 132kbps 2ch VBR 48000Hz
  • Language.....: English
  • Unpacked Bitstream

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Added by Adam Cook
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