Saturday, April 18, 2015

More about "The Year Without A Summer"

The Economist has a long and interesting article about the eruption 200 years ago of Mount Tambora, and the resulting climate effects the following year, 1816 – "The Year Without A Summer":

After Tambora

Two hundred years ago the most powerful eruption in modern history made itself felt around the world. It could happen again at almost any time.

For a different view on the effects of volcanic eruptions on climate, see this post on "Watts Up With That?" from 2012:

Missing the Missing Summer

The author makes the case that average temperatures were not noticeably affected by the eruption of Mount Tambora.

There is a lot of interesting discussion in the comments about volcanoes, average temperatures, crop yields, etc. Many of the commenters provided links to additional information.

See also my earlier posts on this subject:

Mount Tambora - 200 Years Ago
1800 and Froze to Death

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Mount Tambora - 200 Years Ago

The most significant volcanic eruption observed and recorded by humans was 200 years ago yesterday – April 10, 1815 – on Mount Tambora in Indonesia. This led to global cooling and widespread misery in 1816 – The Year Without a Summer.

There is an excellent post about this event here, with links to more information:

200 Years Ago This Week: Tambora's Eruption Causes a Planet-Wide Climate Emergency

Something I learned from this post: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley was written in the cold, dreary summer of 1816 and was likely influenced by the weather. Here is the story from Wikipedia:

During the rainy summer of 1816, the "Year Without a Summer", the world was locked in a long cold volcanic winter caused by the eruption of Mount Tambora in 1815. Mary Shelley, aged 18, and her lover (and later husband) Percy Bysshe Shelley, visited Lord Byron at the Villa Diodati by Lake Geneva in Switzerland. The weather was consistently too cold and dreary that summer to enjoy the outdoor holiday activities they had planned, so the group retired indoors until dawn.

Sitting around a log fire at Byron's villa, the company amused themselves by reading German ghost stories translated into French from the book Fantasmagoriana, then Byron proposed that they "each write a ghost story".

Mary Shelley's Frankenstein grew out of that exercise.

The gloomy weather in the summer of 1816 also inspired Lord Byron's poem "Darkness." From Wikipedia:

Darkness is a poem written by Lord Byron in July 1816. That year was known as the Year Without a Summer, because Mount Tambora had erupted in the Dutch East Indies the previous year, casting enough ash into the atmosphere to block out the sun and cause abnormal weather across much of north-east America and northern Europe. This pall of darkness inspired Byron to write his poem.

Last fall Nancy, Emily and I saw the Tom Stoppard play Arcadia. One of the characters in the play quotes the first five lines of "Darkness":

I had a dream, which was not all a dream.
The bright sun was extinguished, and the stars
Did wander darkling in the eternal space,
Rayless, and pathless, and the icy earth
Swung blind and blackening in the moonless air;

For more links about the weird weather in 1816 see my earlier post: 1800 and Froze to Death.