- 21 Apr 2010 6:00 AM
"We got our figures wrong on the CO2 emissions of Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull. Badly wrong. So we want to apologise," the portal said.
The site, which prides itself on good data and solid information, published figures that were out by a magnitude of ten, despite detailed research and feedback from Icelandic vulcanologists.
The volcano is emitting 150,000 tonnes of CO2 per day, not 15,000 tonnes as stated previously.
"The post was always intended as an open question. Our hope was to get the information refined and corrected. Naively, we didn’t expect the graphic to go super-viral," the site added.
Airports of Europe have been shut down for days due to the volcanic ash hurled into the atmosphere by the volcano, causing massive losses for airlines. According to Monday data, the biggest blow was delivered to no-frills airline Ryanair in excess of USD 700 million in lost revenues. Carriers are losing some USD 250 m a day, but environmentalists are probably not as upset by far as the airlines and millions of stranded passengers.
As a result of flight cancellations, about 64,000 altogether, the volume of carbon dioxide let into the air is much smaller than on an average day, even though Eyjafjallajökull does not look like it is going back to sleep and continues to emit ash and gases into the atmosphere.
The difference is large, but not as staggering as informationisbeautiful.net has estimated earlier.
Against a daily average CO2 emission of 344,109 tonnes, the volcano is puffing 150,000 tonnes of CO2 into the air a day, not 15,000 tonnes as stated previously.
The portal cited the latest information by scientists.
Colin Macpherson, an Earth scientist at Britain's University of Durham, told AFP in an email that assuming the composition of gas to be the same as in an earlier eruption on an adjacent volcano, "the CO2 flux of Eyjafjoell would be 150,000 tonnes per day."
Patrick Allard of the Paris Institute for Global Physics (IPGP) gave what he described as a "top-range" estimate of 300,000 tonnes per day. Both insisted that these were only approximate estimates.
Extrapolated over a year, the emissions would place the volcano 47th to 75th in the world table of emitters on a country-by-country basis, according to a database at the World Resources Institute (WRI), which tracks environment and sustainable development.
A 47th ranking would place it above Austria, Belarus, Portugal, Ireland, Finland, Bulgaria, Sweden, Denmark and Switzerland, according to this list, which relates to 2005, AFP reported.
Experts stressed that the volcano contributed just a tiny amount - less than a third of one percentage point - of global emissions of greenhouse gases.
According to the European Environment Agency (EAA), daily emissions from the aviation sector in the 27 nations of the European Union are around 440,000 tonnes per day.
Not all of this is saved because of the volcanic eruption, said the sources, because a) some airports in southern Europe have remained open for traffic; b) carbon is emitted when passengers stranded by air travel use the train, bus, car or ferry as an alternative, c) many flights in, to and from Europe are merely being deferred until the crisis is over."