Shutting down Europe airspace 'over-reaction'
Manama, April 21, 2010
Shutting down European airspace in the wake of the Iceland volcano eruption was probably an 'over-reaction', an expert has said.
However, huge amounts of atmospheric dust could lead to corrosion in aircraft engines, wearing them out rapidly, putting thousands of lives at risk, said University of Athens atmospheric and air pollution modelling weather and wave forecasting division director Professor George Kallos.
'Though in this scenario, this could have been rather far-fetched, even one such incident would have had authorities scrambling for cover,' he told our sister newspaper Gulf Daily News (GDN), on the sidelines of the Enviro Arabia 2010 Conference, at the Gulf Hotel's Gulf Convention Centre.
Prof Kallos, who is considered an authority on air pollution and its effects on the environment, said aircraft operating in the Gulf and Middle East, which are classified as dusty with vast desert environments, were always at an increased risk of developing problems associated with their environment.
'The engines of these aircraft wear off sooner and as such they have to follow a completely different maintenance protocol,' he said.
'The intake of atmospheric dust is the greatest while taking off and landing and over time that tells on not only the engines but also the body structure of the aircraft as a whole.'
Speaking about the ash clouds over several parts of Europe, he said this would not have an immediate effect and should settle down in the next few days.
'The real impact could be felt in a few months or a few years,' he said.
'This has affected the environment, of which there is no doubt.
'This can lead to some imbalances like torrential rains, flash floods and ground water depletion.
'With this, ground water reserves would not be replenished and that would cause a problem in the next few years.'
Prof Kallos said this was true for any area in the world, where atmospheric pollution from industries is a problem.
'All countries have an issue with emissions from factories and petrochemical plants as well as other industries and there is a lit being done in the field,' he said.
'However, nothing that is being done is enough in the present context because there is a visible degradation in the atmosphere.
'It might be slow but it is happening.'
Prof Kallos said experts had tried to draw attention to the issue of volcanic eruptions for several years.
'Yes, the governments are listening but they are not listening enough,' he said.
Prof Kallos said it was imperative planners took into consideration nature's fury before they planned projects that were likely to defy it.
'There are buildings touching the sky, underwater hotels being built and sky cities being planned,' he said.
'These are all engineering marvels but all it takes is one burst of the fury of nature and all would come to naught.'-TradeArabia News Service