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1816: The Great Mount Tambora Eruption and the Years without Summer ....

owedtojoy

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In the first week of April, 1815, on the Indonesian island of Sumbawa, the volcanic peak of Mount Tambora vented the largest volcanic eruption in recorded history, 10 times greater than Krakatoa (1883), or Mount St Helens (1980), and 100 times greater than the eruption of Mount Vesuvius that buried Pompeii and Herculaneum. Indeed, archaeologists have recently unearthed whole villages buried by the Mount Tambora eruption.



Some 10,000 people died immediately from the effects of the eruptions, with maybe 50,000 more afterwards, but many more were to die in an extended global aftermath. Professor John D Post’s described it in a book as The Last Great Subsistence Crisis in the Western World (1977). Not just the Western World either - in the year after the eruption, climatic effects triggered a global hunger crisis.

The eruption drove huge volumes of dust and ash into the upper atmosphere, spreading worldwide and blocking the sun's rays. More insidious, sulphate gases joined with water vapour to form sulphuric acid aerosols with the same long term effect.

While Napoleon's 100 Days began just about the same time as the eruption, and his defeat at Waterloo occurred 3 months later, instead of entering a new era of peace, a year later (1816) Europe was hit with the Year Without A Summer.

Due to the cooling effects of the dust and sulphate aerosols, rain and snow fell in June and July. There were frost and floods in Europe and North America. Crops were inundated after planting, or just did not ripen in the cold. The effects were felt in many countries.

  • In India, the atmospheric pollution of the volcano disrupted the Monsoon in 1816 causing massive drought. Soon after, the sub-continent was hit with the first cholera pandemic leading to the deaths of hundreds of thousands.
  • In North America, the disruption of farming in the east led to a massive new wave of westward emigration that settled the Great Lakes region and the Mississippi Valley.
  • In the US, the apparent arbitrary visitation of the extreme weather caused a reaction against the rationality of the founding fathers like Jefferson and Franklin. Ironically, Benjamin Franklin had speculated about volcanic effects on weather, but with poor circulation of news at the time, the eruption of Mount Tambora was not connected to the weather of 1816. There was a major revival in Bible-reading and fundamentalist Protestantism called The Great Awakening. One of the itinerant farmers cast adrift by the events of 1816 was one Joseph Smith, who in 1820 was to claim a divine revelation in founding the Mormon religion.
  • In Britain and Ireland, there were sporadic outbreaks of anti-Government violence. The lack of cheap bread was compounded by the closure of many war industries after Napoleon's defeat, and the demobilisation of tens of thousands of soldiers. In both islands, and for the first time ever, the Government offered to pay for "relief work" enterprises started by the private sector, like road, canal or harbour building.
  • Ireland in particular suffered a sporadic ongoing famine and a typhus epidemic from 1816 to 1822.
  • In continental Europe, France, Prussia and Switzerland were adversely affected also, and imported grain from anywhere it could be purchased, like North Africa or Russia.

The hunger effects were still there is 1817 and 1818, and the effects of the eruption were still around for a few years, but alleviated gradually.

One of the strangest effects was on the world of art and literature. The blazing sunsets of J M Turner painted around that time (like the one below) are thought to be a by-product of the optical effects of the atmospheric dust from Mount Tambora


In Switzerland, at the Villa Diodati, a collection of writers led by Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley spent the gloomy days and evenings telling ghost stories. Mary Shelley, wife of the poet, made up her own story later to be published as Frankenstein, whose Arctic scenes may been inspired by the Year Without A Summer.

In the end, the Western World survived, though with its faith in science and the Enlightenment badly shaken, with a turn to Romanticism and Irrationalism reinforced. Anti-Semitism revived as gullible people readily blamed Jews for the high price of food. The continent was already in a period of reaction to the defeat of Napoleon and Republicanism, but the subsistence crisis probably in the end helped monarchical governments re-double their grip.

Mount Tambora is still active.

A volcanic eruption with global repercussions

Blast from the Past | History | Smithsonian

Modern Postscript

Aerosols still cool the earth - in the graphic you can see that clouds and sulphates have a cooling effect, opposite to that of greenhouse gases. So as well as human-generated global warming, there is also human-generated global cooling. Unfortunately, the first outweighs the second. And as we continue to desist from using coal, the cooling effects will diminish - unless we have a few Mount Tamboras every couple of years.


Graphic from the InterGovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
 
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firefly123

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Fascinating stuff. Thanks for that.
 

owedtojoy

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Fascinating stuff. Thanks for that.
I dedicate the topic to good old Cassandra Syndrome, now departed from p.ie, who used to discourse on The Year Without Summer as if it "disproved" human-generated greenhouse gas warming.

It does nothing of the sort.

If anything, it reinforces how atmospheric composition influences the weather, and long-term-weather = climate

Luckily for us, dust and sulphate aerosols get removed from the atmosphere. So do greenhouse gases, but unfortunately over a much longer timeframe - centuries rather than years. So the effects of greenhouse gas warming will last longer.

Incidentally, you can see the effect of Mount Tambora in this Berkeley Earth chart:


That suggests that the average global temperature after Tambora was ~2.0C lower than at present. 2.0C does not seem like much, but as a global average over the large earth (some areas would have been even lower), it was.

Also another modern postscript, in these satellite lower tropospheric temperatures (a few miles over our heads), the big dip in 1992 and after is due to the eruption of Mount Pinatubo (1991), in the Phillipines, a much smaller eruption than Tambora 1815.

 
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Rafael Rose

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Anti-Semitism revived as gullible people readily blamed Jews for the high price of food.

So as well as human-generated global warming,
The jews and global warming all in one post, i'm sure you'll get extra credit for that.

Incidentally, you can see the effect of Mount Tambora in this Berkeley Earth chart:

Your graph makes no sense.

Met Office Weather Station Oxford, England. Temperatures (max)
http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/pub/data/weather/uk/climate/stationdata/oxforddata.txt

1868

Jan 5.9
Feb 9.8
Mar 11.1
Apr 14.1
May 20.4
Jun 23.6
Jul 25.8
Aug 22.1
Sep 19.7
Oct 12.7
Nov 7.9
Dec 10.4

2010

Jan 4.7
Feb 7.1
Mar 11.3
Apr 15.8
May 17.6
Jun 23.0
Jul 23.9
Aug 21.4
Sep 18.8
Oct 14.5
Nov 8.2
Dec 2.7

You can manipulate the data all you want to produce your hockey stick graphs to support your crackpot theories, but as we can all see from the actual raw data it was on average hotter in 1868 than it was in 2010. Surely there should be a big spike in 1868 to the same level of 2010 on your graph but it doesn't appear to be there, why is this?
 

Roberto Jordan

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The jews and global warming all in one post, i'm sure you'll get extra credit for that.



Your graph makes no sense.

Met Office Weather Station Oxford, England. Temperatures (max)
http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/pub/data/weather/uk/climate/stationdata/oxforddata.txt

1868

Jan 5.9
Feb 9.8
Mar 11.1
Apr 14.1
May 20.4
Jun 23.6
Jul 25.8
Aug 22.1
Sep 19.7
Oct 12.7
Nov 7.9
Dec 10.4

2010

Jan 4.7
Feb 7.1
Mar 11.3
Apr 15.8
May 17.6
Jun 23.0
Jul 23.9
Aug 21.4
Sep 18.8
Oct 14.5
Nov 8.2
Dec 2.7

You can manipulate the data all you want to produce your hockey stick graphs to support your crackpot theories, but as we can all see from the actual raw data it was on average hotter in 1868 than it was in 2010. Surely there should be a big spike in 1868 to the same level of 2010 on your graph but it doesn't appear to be there, why is this?
One is a graph of multiple composites of global temperature measures over many years. The other, your post, are two sets of monthly average data for a single location in two years. One does not have to vary for the other to do so. A single data point does not disprove a trend and a single data set does not represent a population and a single time point does not represent a continuum and so on & so forth
 

owedtojoy

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One is a graph of multiple composites of global temperature measures over many years. The other, your post, are two sets of monthly average data for a single location in two years. One does not have to vary for the other to do so. A single data point does not disprove a trend and a single data set does not represent a population and a single time point does not represent a continuum and so on & so forth
RR is a fruitcake climate change & Holocaust denier, the kind who embarrasses other climate change deniers.

How could you expect such a creature to have any grasp of how to evaluate numerical or historical data?

Using two years of observations from a single weather station to dispute a global trend is about as bizarro as you could get.

Strangely, Central England has the longest continuous temperature record in the world - it clearly shows the effects of Mount Tambora and global warming due to human greenhouse gases.



Met Office Hadley Centre observations datasets

The other troughs are interesting - how global or local were they? The planet was just ending what is know as the Little Ice Age.
 

niall78

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Good OP. I've ordered the book on-line after reading your thread.

If you are into volcanos and their worldwide effects I'd highly recommend
Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded: August 27, 1883 by Simon Winchester as well.
 

owedtojoy

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Good OP. I've ordered the book on-line after reading your thread.

If you are into volcanos and their worldwide effects I'd highly recommend
Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded: August 27, 1883 by Simon Winchester as well.
The Tambora book authors make the good point that the news of Krakatoa went around the world within a few days, thanks to the electric telegraph. Newspapers in every country reported the massive eruption, and were read by literate populations.

Tambora took months for its news to spread, and then many would not even have heard of it due to scarcity of newspapers and low literacy rates. It took about 30 years after Krakatoa for a scientist to write a paper making the connection between the volcanic eruption and global weather.
 

owedtojoy

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Someone started a new thread about nuclear warfare, I notice.

Even a small nuclear exchange would trigger a Tambora-like effect with dust blasted into the atmosphere.

In the 1980s, it was called "nuclear winter", though one scientist who studied it said it would be more like a "nuclear autumn", which would be bad enough, and lead to massive food crises.
 

Clanrickard

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The jews and global warming all in one post, i'm sure you'll get extra credit for that.



Your graph makes no sense.

Met Office Weather Station Oxford, England. Temperatures (max)
http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/pub/data/weather/uk/climate/stationdata/oxforddata.txt

1868

Jan 5.9
Feb 9.8
Mar 11.1
Apr 14.1
May 20.4
Jun 23.6
Jul 25.8
Aug 22.1
Sep 19.7
Oct 12.7
Nov 7.9
Dec 10.4

2010

Jan 4.7
Feb 7.1
Mar 11.3
Apr 15.8
May 17.6
Jun 23.0
Jul 23.9
Aug 21.4
Sep 18.8
Oct 14.5
Nov 8.2
Dec 2.7

You can manipulate the data all you want to produce your hockey stick graphs to support your crackpot theories, but as we can all see from the actual raw data it was on average hotter in 1868 than it was in 2010. Surely there should be a big spike in 1868 to the same level of 2010 on your graph but it doesn't appear to be there, why is this?
Epic epic fail.
 

Socratus O' Pericles

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Good OP. I've ordered the book on-line after reading your thread.

If you are into volcanos and their worldwide effects I'd highly recommend
Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded: August 27, 1883 by Simon Winchester as well.
Me too 12.50 with the Book Depositry, cheap at twice the price.petunia
 

Rafael Rose

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Incidentally, you can see the effect of Mount Tambora in this Berkeley Earth chart:


That suggests that the average global temperature after Tambora was ~2.0C lower than at present. 2.0C does not seem like much, but as a global average over the large earth (some areas would have been even lower), it was.
One is a graph of multiple composites of global temperature measures over many years. The other, your post, are two sets of monthly average data for a single location in two years. One does not have to vary for the other to do so. A single data point does not disprove a trend and a single data set does not represent a population and a single time point does not represent a continuum and so on & so forth
Let me explain it again for you, the red line in Owedtojoy's graph says Hadley/CRU which is the Met Office. As this is the history section let me give you some, when the Met Office started in 1853 at the start of the red line on the graph they had a handful of weather stations one of them being Oxford.

He then goes on to tell us that the graph shows us the Tambora event where the temperature is 2 degrees lower than at present, which you can see on the graph along the Berkeley (black line).

So if 1868 was a particularly hot year with the warmest winter ever recorded, and was even warmer than 2010 which is at the top of the graph. Why is there no massive spike in the red line for 1868, why does this not show up on the graph?

You cannot compare the data from the 1800's to data that is recorded today because it will bring a different result as shown in owedtojoys graphs, it's his graphs I'm calling BS not the data that has been collected.

The CRU part of Hadley/CRU is the University of East Anglia, you know the ones who 'tweaked' the figures then got found out in the great global warming email scandal.

Owedtojoy has even posted a painting of global warming in his OP to prove it's happening, he has history for this with his evidence of the holocaust being some sketches someone did after the war! Let him have his little conspiracy theories like global warming, UFO's and the holocaust, I'm sure a drawing of a UFO is coming any minute.
 

Rafael Rose

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RR is a fruitcake climate change & Holocaust denier, the kind who embarrasses other climate change deniers.

How could you expect such a creature to have any grasp of how to evaluate numerical or historical data?

Using two years of observations from a single weather station to dispute a global trend is about as bizarro as you could get.

Strangely, Central England has the longest continuous temperature record in the world - it clearly shows the effects of Mount Tambora and global warming due to human greenhouse gases.



Met Office Hadley Centre observations datasets

The other troughs are interesting - how global or local were they? The planet was just ending what is know as the Little Ice Age.
Yet another BS graph, how can the Met Office have data from 1750 when it didn't even exist for another 100 years until 1853! You can't take data from somewhere else and stitch it together with other data taken in a different location with different equipment, because you are going to get false figures.

Maths has never been your strong point has it?
 

owedtojoy

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I have a friend who studied this for their PhD thesis, the volcanological aspect.

There is a very good free podcast on BBC4's In Our Time discussing this. As often happens with that show, the guests are from a varied background, giving interesting angles to the discussion.

BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time, 1816, the Year Without a Summer
They bring up the interesting point in that how much the volcanic eruption responsible for the great cholera epidemic in India (which spread around the world in the 1830s and 1840s, killing millions). Cholera was a new disease, caused by a pathogen that formerly lived in the guts of sea creatures in the Bay of Bengal. It evolved to live in the guts of humans, thanks to the draining of Bengali marshes to grow rice. Perhaps it was a coincidence, perhaps the circumstances created by the volcano facilitated the spread of the organism.

They also bring up the point: what if Mount Tambora happened today? Planetary population had just passed 1 billion in 1804, now it has passed 8 billion. However, we have much more efficient and productive agriculture, plus the means to distribute its produce fairly quickly. Also, the planet is now 1C warmer (thanks to our own greenhouse gas waste) so maybe the effects would be mitigated.

Still, I think there would be massive food crises in vulnerable areas - mainly Africa and probably the Middle East. The world would struggle to contain the emergency, and because of its global nature, countries would tend to look after themselves first.
 

Socratus O' Pericles

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Me too 12.50 with the Book Depositry, cheap at twice the price.petunia
There's a perfectly good global warming thread, full of bull************************ graphs, insults, shilling and all that good stuff.

Getting back to the book it's a good read on the lines of a Bill Bryson.
 

Degeneration X

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Another interesting theory on the possible impact of volcanoes on human development.

Also worth noting Daniel Keys' theories on the possible role of volcanism on the beginning of the Dark Ages.

 

making waves

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Widespread food rioting took place in Ireland in May/June 1817 directly as a result of the impact on crop growth from the effects of the Tambora volcano.
 

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