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200th anniversary of Tambora eruption a reminder of volcanic perils

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I've read a little on the 17th century and if anyone is interested in the subject I recommend Global Crisis: War, Climate Change & Catastrophe in the Seventeenth Century by Geoffrey Parker. The depth of research to produce this book is truly mind boggling. To move on:



The 2010 eruption of the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull grounded thousands of air flights and spread ash over much of western Europe, yet it was puny compared to the eruption 200 years ago of Tambora, a volcano that probably killed more than 60,000 people in what is now Indonesia and turned summer into winter over much of the Northern Hemisphere.


"Because Tambora ejected sulfurous gas that generated sulfate aerosols in the atmosphere, which block sunlight, the eruption created a 'year without a summer,' leading to food shortages -- people were eating cats and rats -- and very general hardship throughout Europe and eastern North America," said Stephen Self, an adjunct professor of earth and planetary science at the University of California, Berkeley, and an expert on volcanoes, in particular supervolcano eruptions 10 times larger than Tambora.




Eruption trials


The eruption of Mount Tambora in 1815 has been linked to climate change and social unrest. Such historical eruptions could serve as test cases for models used to assess future climate changes.




The year without a summer


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Neat blog from the University of Nottingham



Next week I’m fortunate to be attending the International Conference on Volcanoes, Climate and Society at the University of Bern, Switzerland. The purpose of the conference is to mark 200 years since the eruption of the Tambora volcano, on the Indonesian island of Sumbawa, between 5-11th April 1815. The eruption is one of the largest ever known, and an estimated 72,000 people in Indonesia lost their lives because of it, either directly or through linked famine and disease. Longer term and further afield, the huge volume of sulphur that was injected into the atmosphere changed global climate over the succeeding years, 1816 becoming popularly known as ‘the year without a summer’ or, in the United States, ‘eighteen hundred and froze to death’, owing to the prevailing cold and wet conditions across the northeastern USA, maritime provinces of Canada, and Europe (Oppenheimer, 2003). The conference is revisiting the event from a wide variety of perspectives, considering contemporary impacts and responses, and what more we can learn from it today, potentially also considering whether we are prepared for an eruption of similar magnitude today – a question Bill McGuire explored in a piece in The Guardian earlier this week. Next Friday I will be presenting a short paper drawing on archival materials gathered as part of the Weather Extremes project.



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