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Climactic Effects of
the 1815 Eruption of
by Jacob Smith
CiviIizalion oxisls by gooIogic consonl, sub|ocl lo
chango vilhoul nolico - WiII Duranl
In 1815, Tanbora calaslrophicaIIy oruplod aflor
lhroo yoars of incroasod runbIing. This vas ono of
lho Iargosl Inovn ash-producing oruplions in lho Iasl
10,000 yoars, roducing lho voIcano lo haIf ils fornor
sizo. Tanbora is sliII a Iargo slralovoIcano (2860 n laII
and >1000 In
in voIuno) Iocalod on lho Indonosian
isIand of Sunbava (parl of lho Lossor Sunda IsIands)
This is a sognonl of lho Sunda Arc, a slring of
voIcanic isIands forning lho soulhorn chain of lho
Indonosian archipoIago. Tanbora Iios 340 In (211
ni) norlh of lho }ava Tronch syslon and 180 - 190 In
(112118 ni) abovo lho uppor surfaco of lho aclivo
norlh-dipping subduclion zono. Tho 1815 oruplion
has had a significanl inpacl al lho gIobaI scaIo.
Vasl anounls of aorosoIs voro in|oclod inlo lho
alnosphoro, cIouding oul lho Sun in lho rogion for
sovoraI days aflor lho iniliaI oruplion. Tho yoar aflor
lho oruplion bocano Inovn as lho Yoar Wilhoul
a Sunnor for poopIo lhroughoul Indonosia, lho
EngIish IsIos, and ovon Anorica. This yoar has
aIso boon IinIod lo nassivo crop faiIuro lhal Iod lo
vidosproad fanino, disoaso and sociaI slross.
An undorslanding of lho conposilion and
dynanics of Earlh's alnosphoro viII provido a baso
InovIodgo lo vhal roIo voIcanisn pIay in lho syslon.
Il is lhon possibIo lo rocognizo lo vhal oxlonl ils
offocls, bolh rogionaIIy and gIobaIIy, viII havo on
voalhor and lho Earlh's inhabilanls.
Earlh's radialion budgol diclalos lhal inconing
radiation from the Sun must be balanced by
oulgoing radialion. As lho Sun hoals lho Earlh, lho
lonporaluro incroasos, causing il lo radialo in lho
infrarod spoclrun. Infrarod radialion lrios lo oscapo
inlo spaco, bul groonhouso gasos absorb a porlion
of il. Thoso parlicIos can lhoroforo incroaso ovoraII
alnosphoric lonporaluros subslanliaIIy (Sigurdsson
et al. 2000). In ordor lo undorsland alnosphoric
dynamics and the role that volcanism plays, it helps to
havo InovIodgo of lho Ioy conpononls of lho Earlh's
Tho Earlh's alnosphoro is dividod inlo sovoraI
rogions basod on ils lhornaI slrucluro (Figuro 1).
Thoro aro lvo prinary divisions in lho alnosphoro:
lho honosphoro and lho holorosphoro. Tho
homosphere contains the troposphere, tropopause,
slralosphoro, ozono, slralopauso, nososphoro,
lho nosopauso and 5% of lho ionosphoro. Tho
honosphoro is a rogion in vhich lho conposilion
and noIocuIar voighl of air varios IillIo lhroughoul
(Sigurdsson et al. 2000). WhiIo lho nixing ralios
of lraco oIononls nay vary groalIy il is prinariIy
conposod of 80% N
and 20% O
. Tho holorosphoro
conlains lho lhornosphoro, oxosphoro and lho
ronaining 95% of lho ionosphoro. This papor viII
focus on lho rogion fron lho lroposphoro lo lho
stratopause and the effects that volcanic aerosols have
vilhin lhis rogion.
Troposphere and Tropopause
Tho lroposphoro is lho rogion of lho alnosphoro
occupying lho Iovosl Iayor on Earlh. Il is vhoro
weather is created by instability, due to the absorption
of solar radiation at the surface that heats air, which
nay lhon riso lhrough lho coIdor, noro donso air
abovo. Tho lroposphoro conlains naluraIIy occurring
, O
, H
O, Ar, CO
and a variety of other pollutants
such as O
(ozono), NO
, OCS (carbonyI suIfido)
and SO
. IarlicIos of various conposilion and lypo,
nany arising fron surfaco sourcos such as soiI and
organic gasos, poIIulo lhis rogion hoaviIy (Sigurdsson
et al. 2000). Troposphoric parlicIos aro lypicaIIy
ronovod fron lho alnosphoro aflor sovoraI vooIs
by procipilalion. For oxanpIo, rainoul providos lho
doninanl sinI for voIcanic suIfur in|oclod inlo lho
troposphere, which will be discussed in more detail
The transition boundary between the troposphere
and lho Iayor abovo is caIIod lho lropopauso. Tho
temperature and altitude of the tropopause vary from
aboul -83C (- 118F) and 18 In (11 ni.) al lho oqualor
lo -53C (-64F) and 8 In (5 ni.) in lho poIar rogions.
Bolh lho lropopauso and lho lroposphoro aro Inovn
as lho Iovor alnosphoro.
Tho slralosphoro is lho rogion abovo lho
lropopauso conlaining lho ozono Iayor, vhich
hoals lho alnosphoro by absorplion of high-onorgy
uIlravioIol rays fron lho Sun. Tho incroasing
temperature profile of the stratosphere insures it is
a nuch noro slabIo rogion of lho alnosphoro lhan
lho lroposphoro. Air fron lho lroposphoro onlors
the stratosphere in the tropics, where convective
slorn syslons croalo slrong updrafls lhal can broaI
lhrough lho coId lropicaI lropopauso. Much of lho
valor vapor froozos oul of lho rising air, Ioaving
lho slralosphoro nuch drior lhan lho lroposphoro.
Therefore, particles in the stratosphere are not
rained out, and may remain in the stratosphere until
lransforrod vilh anbionl air parlicIos (Sigurdsson et
al. 2000).
Al nidIaliludos, longuos of slralosphoro aro
foIdod inlo lho lroposphoro. Thoso longuos aro
rosponsibIo for lransforring aboul 75% of lho air
inlo lho slralosphoro (Sigurdsson et al. 2000). Tho
air nixluro lhal is lransforrod in lhis zono ronains
in lho slralosphoro for 2 yoars. Tho ronaining
25% of lho air nixluro is again lransforrod by air
noving dovnvard al lho poIos by lho slrong vinlor
|ol slroan. Tho lransporl of air oul of lho lropics lo
highor Ialiludos doponds on lho diroclion of zonaI
vinds ovor lho oqualor. By lho lino lhis air roachos
high Ialiludos, chonicaI lracors indicalo lhal lho air is
3-5 yoars oId.
Stratospheric Chemistry
The stratosphere contains elements such as N
(alonic oxygon), O
(ozono), OCS, CI, and Br.
Slralosphoric chIorino is dorivod fron anlhropogonic
chIorofIuorocarbons (CFC's) and nolhyI chIoroforn
(vhich has naluraI sourcos), ralhor lhan voIcanic
oruplions (Fig. 1). Slralosphoric bronino conos fron
anlhropogonic haIocarbons and nolhyI bronido, nol
voIcanoos. HaIocarbons aro ono or noro alons of C
covaIonlIy bondod vilh ono or noro haIogons such as
CI, FI. Br, or I, and aro lypicaIIy producod as soIvonls
for induslriaI cIoaning. VoIcanic aorosoIs aIlor
stratospheric chemistry in such a way that it activates
chIorino and bronino for ozono dopIolion by noans of
roaclions on noIocuIar surfacos.
Ozone Chemistry
Ozono (O
) and alonic oxygon (O) naIo up lho
odd oxygon faniIy of alnosphoric spocios. Tho
lvo spocios can inlorchango rapidIy vilh ono anolhor
by noans of nunorous chonicaI roaclions. Tho
roaclions lhal produco or doslroy lolaI odd oxygon
aro nuch sIovor. Slralosphoric chonislry lypicaIIy
occurs honogonoousIy vhiIo aorosoIs aro in lhoir
gasoous phaso. Hovovor, holorogonoous chonislry
of an aerosol can occur between any combinations
of phasos (gas, Iiquid or soIid). Tho ralos of
holorogonoous roaclions incroaso slrongIy as lhoso
aerosols become more dilute, thus, the reactions often
go faslor al coIdor lonporaluros. Odd oxygon and lho
ozono aro boIiovod lo bo conlroIIod dynanicaIIy in
the lower stratosphere, and chemically controlled in
the upper stratosphere where temperatures are colder
and pronolo holorogonoous chonislry (Sigurdsson
et al. 2000). Transporl of aorosoIs in lho slralosphoro
gonoraIIy laIos vooIs lo nonlhs lo circuIalo air
gIobaIIy. WhiIo odd oxygon is producod and
doslroyod vilhin sovoraI hours al 60 In, il survivos
for vooIs al 35 In, and for sovoraI yoars al 20 In.
The Antarctic Ozone Hole
As winter approaches and temperatures decrease
in the polar stratosphere, sulfate aerosol becomes very
diIulo, laIing up nol onIy valor bul aIso significanl
quanlilios of nilric acid (HNO
) fron lroposphoric
poIIulanls. Ico coro chonislry providos furlhor
information on the atmospheric impacts of the
oruplion. Opponhoinor (2003) found lhal GroonIand
ico coro ralio of vinlor-lo-sunnor doposilion of NO

incroasod foIIoving lho oruplions of bolh Tanbora
and Kalnai (1912). Ho allribulos lhis lo condonsalion
and ronovaI of slralosphoric HNO
for the Antarctic
slralosphoro during lho vinlor, and sIovor fornalion
of HNO
during lho sunnor bocauso of ronovaI of
OH lhrough oxidalion of SO
. LooIing al Anlarclic
ico coro chonicaI slraligraphy, ovidonco is IacIing
for changos in alnosphoric chIorino lhoughl lo havo
boon roIoasod by lho oruplion (100 Tg). Il is lhoughl
lhal nosl of lho haIogons voro rapidIy and officionlIy
scavongod by lho lroposphoro as lho oruplion cIouds
ascondod (SadIor and Grallan 1999).
Though slralosphoric chIorino and bronino
aro oxpoclod lo docIino ovor lho 21sl conlury duo
lo inlornalionaI lroalios roguIaling CFC's and
haIocarbons, lhoir ozono- dopIoling offocls nay sliII
bo groalIy nagnifiod ovor lino by voIcanic oruplions.
Roconl oxanpIos incIudo lho 1991 oruplion of
Iinalubo and EI Chichn in 1982 (TabIo. 1). FoIIoving
lhoir oruplions, springlino Anlarclic ozono docIinod
roIalivo lo pro-oruplion IovoIs by aboul 15 lo 20%,
rospoclivoIy, boforo rocovoring sonovhal as aorosoIs
docIinod ovor sovoraI yoars (Sigurdsson et al. 2000).
Stratospheric Aerosols
Aerosols play a very important role in the climate
bocauso lhoy can polonliaIIy bo an oxlornaI forcing
nochanisn on lho gIobaI cIinalo. Iroof for lho
oxislonco of a Iayor of parlicIos in lho slralosphoro
vas discovorod in 1961 by a loan Iod by Chrislian
}ungo vilh lho uso of high-aIliludo baIIoons. Thoy
determined that a non!volcanic source is responsible
for nainlaining slralosphoric suIfalo aorosoI. In 1976,
IauI Crulzon suggoslod carbonyI suIfido (OCS) as lho
na|or sourco of bacIground Iayor (Sigurdsson et al.
2000). OCS originalos fron bioIogicaI, voIcanic, and
sono anlhropogonic sourcos, such as lho burning of
fossiI fuoIs. Tho lroposphoro is roIalivoIy inorl and has
a chonicaI Iifolino of aboul 30 yoars. Tho Iong-Iivod
oxislonco of OCS aIIovs il lo bo dislribulod roIalivoIy
unifornIy lhroughoul lho lroposphoro (figuro 2). Tho
nixing ralio is aboul 500 parls por lriIIion by voIuno
(pplv), naIing OCS lho nosl abundanl suIfur boaring
conpound in lho alnosphoro.
In lho slralosphoro, uIlravioIol Iighl roacls vilh
alonic oxygon lo doslroy OCS, lhis producos SO
vhich lhon oxidizos lo suIfuric acid. WhiIo OCS
clearly provides an important source of stratospheric
suIfalo, il broaIs aparl al a ralo loo high lo accounl
for lho aorosoI obsorvod in voIcanicaIIy quiol poriods.
of lroposphoric origin, via anlhropogonic
poIIulion and roducod bioIogicaIIy producod suIfur
conpounds, slrongIy infIuoncos aorosoI(s) in lho
Iovor slralosphoro.
GonoraIIy, for a givon nass of aorosoI, a Iargo
nunbor of snaII parlicIos providos a groalor oplicaI
doplh lhan a snaII nunbor of Iargo parlicIos. Tho
albedo of an aerosol layer is dependent on its optical
doplh. Incroasos in lho pIanolary aIbodo docroaso
the amount of radiation absorbed, which results in
docroasing lho Earlh's lonporaluro (Sigurdsson et al.
Volcanic Aerosols
Whether the net effect of aerosol absorption and
reflection is to cool or to heat the Earth depends on
parlicIo sizo. For lho varning offocl lo ovorcono
lho cooIing offocl, parlicIos nusl bo Iargor lhan
aboul lvo n in radius (SadIor and Grallan 1999).
VoIcanic oruplions inlroduco Iargo quanlilios of ash
and nagnalic gasos inlo lho alnosphoro. Tho na|or
gasos roIoasod aro valor vapor (>80% by voIuno)
and carbon dioxido (-10% by voIuno), vilh snaIIor,
noro variabIo conlribulions of SO
, H
S, CO, H
, N
HCI and HBr (Sigurdsson et al. 2000). Tho gIobaI
distribution of aerosols from volcanic eruptions
doponds prinariIy on ils Ialiludo and inlonsily.
Aerosols from tropical eruptions have the potential
lo sproad gIobaIIy in lho slralosphoro, as vas lho caso
vilh Tanbora in 1815 and Mounl Iinalubo in 1992.
However, aerosols from many tropical eruptions
(such as EI Chichn in 1982) havo ronainod IargoIy
in lhoir honisphoro of origin. IIunos vhich do nol
broaI lhrough lho lroposphoro, or vhich occur al high
Ialiludos, havo fovor gIobaI consoquoncos. VoIcanic
aorosoI cIouds producod during such oruplions nay
rosuIl in a significanl drop in surfaco prossuro across
nidIaliludos of lho Norlh AlIanlic soclor (Ranpino et
al. I988).
Tanbora-sizo ( 100 In
of nagna) oxpIosivo
voIcanic oruplions onil Iargo quanlilios of suIfur
dioxido gas inlo lho slralosphoro, vhoro il is
converted into a sulfuric acid aerosol dust veil that
oncircIos lho Earlh (Sigurdsson et al. 2000). Tho suIfur
nass in|oclod inlo lho slralosphoro by lho Tanbora
eruption has been estimated by several independent
nolhods incIuding nodoIing of poIar ico coro
suIfalo conconlralions, polroIogicaI noasurononls
of 1815 lophra, and anaIysis of alnosphoric oplicaI
phononona. Tho rosuIls vary by an ordor of
nagniludo bul oxcIuding lho oulIying oslinalos,
lho figuros avorago around 60 Tg of oslinalod
slralosphoric aorosoI Ioading of SO
2003). In conlrasl, Sigurdsson et al. (2000) suggosls
lhal lho 1815 Tanbora oruplion lo bo >100 Tg of SO
They also further estimated the amount for the 1991
Iinalubo oruplion lo bo 30 Tg of SO
and lho 1982 EI
Chichn, 12 Tg of SO
Opponhoinor (2003) slalos lhal il is difficuIl lo
separate this total from the different phases of the
eruption and, in particular, to determine the different
parls lhal dorivod fron pIinian vorsus co-igninbrilo
(phoonix') cIouds.
Understanding Volcanic Impact on the Atmosphere
Hunans havo unInovingIy oxporioncod lho
gIobaI alnosphoric affocls of voIcanic oruplions for
lhousands of yoars. WhiIo poopIo cIoso lo an aclivo
voIcano nighl havo boon abIo lo accounl for slrango
local phenomena, correlation between the effects on
lho alnosphoro on a gIobaI scaIo vouId nol bogin
lo bo IinIod lo voIcanisn unliI lho 18
Sigurdsson et al. (2000) slalod lhal Bon|anin FranIIin
nighl havo boon lho firsl lo roporl lho IinI bolvoon
volcanism and unusual atmospheric phenomena in
1784, vhon slrango dry fog and unsoasonabIy coId
voalhor slrucI Europo. FranIIin spocuIalod lhal lho
fog vas lho causo of lho coId sunnor, and lhal il
originalod as snoIo fron oilhor noloorilos or voIcanic
oruplions ho Inov lo havo occurrod in IcoIand ovor
lho courso of lho provious yoar (1783 oruplion of
LaIi). This vouId bo confirnod onIy roconlIy and
has nov boon IinIod lo lho fanino lhal roducod lho
popuIalion of lho NiIo vaIIoy by ono-sixlh. Il vas
nol unliI lho 1883 oruplion of KraIaloa, lhal slrango
alnosphoric offocls vouId bo IinIod lo voIcanoos
The Eruption
Tambora became active at least 1 year prior to
lho 1815 oruplion (SoIf ol aI. 1989). On lho ovoning
of ApriI 5 1815, Tanbora had a shorl-Iivod lvo-hour
pIinian oruplion. Tho firsl oruplion had an inlonsily
lhal oxcoodod 108 Ig s
, propoIIing lho pIuno 33 In
above sea level, and the total mass of erupted material
vas 1.11 X 10
Ig (Opponhoinor 2003).
On ApriI 10 1815, around 19:00 IocaI lino, lho
socond na|or, noro povorfuI, phaso of lho oruplion
bogan and onIy Iaslod <3 hours. Il is oslinalod lhal
lho phaso of lho oruplion had a dischargo ralo of
3 X 10
Ig s
and lho pIuno roachod ovor 43 In
abovo soa-IovoI (Opponhoinor 2003), naIing il lho
socond highosl oslinalod oruplivo cIoud in lho Iasl
2000 yoars. Tho Iasl na|or phaso of lho oruplion
vas igninbrilo doninalod. Il has boon oslinalod
lhal during lho duralion of lhis igninbrilo phaso
of the eruption, the mean intensity must have been
around 5 X 10
Ig s
(Opponhoinor 2003). This vouId
havo propoIIod lho phoonix cIouds lo around 23 In
abovo soa IovoI, a nodosl hoighl considoring lho
oruplion inlonsily (Opponhoinor 2003). His oslinalo
is probabIy sufficionlIy cIoso onough bocauso ho
conparod phoonix pIunos lo pIinian coIunns in
lorns of lhoir lhornaI officioncios.
Self et al. (1989) oslinalod lhal 175 In
nepheline!normative trachyandesitic pyroclastic
naloriaI (lho oquivaIonl lo aboul 50 In
of dense
rocI) vas oruplod ovor lho duralion of lho oruplion.
Of parlicuIar inlorosl, lho Iargosl Inovn incroaso in
lho oslinalod slralosphoric aorosoI Ioading, >100
Tg of SO
, (noro lhan 6 linos lho anounl of lho
1991 Iinalubo oruplion) rosuIlod fron lho oruplion
(Sigurdsson et al. 2000). Ash faIIoul vas nolod ovor
an aroa in oxcoss of 4 X 10
(and probabIy foII ovor
an area of more than 10
) (Ranpino et al. 1988).
In addilion lo vasl anounls of naloriaI orupling
from several pyroclastic flows, tsunamis and pumice
rafls voro roporlod ovor lho noxl coupIo of days.
MolooroIogicaI condilions spavnod by lho oxpIosion
slarlod vilh a hol, foIIovod by an oxlronoIy coId,
pocIol of air diroclIy undor lho lroposphoric ash
cIouds, as roporlod al Ban|uvangi, 400 In fron lho
voIcano. Froozing lonporaluros voro rocordod in
Madras, India, lvo vooIs Ialor (Ranpino et al. 1988).
The Summer of 1816: The Year Without a Summer
For two to three days after the eruption, there was
conpIolo darInoss vilhin a 600 In radius of Tanbora
acconpaniod by a roporlod dranalic Iovoring of air
lonporaluro, aIlhough il is nol cIoar lo vhal oxlonl
(Opponhoinor 2003). Lighl ovonluaIIy rolurnod
lo rogions furlhosl avay aflor ono or lvo days and
graduaIIy by lho socond or lhird day, fainl Iighl vas
visibIo noar lho voIcano. Sunsols voro orango or rod
noar lho horizon, purpIo lo pinI abovo, and voro
sonolinos slroaIod by divorging darI bands for
aInosl a yoar aflor lho oruplion (Opponhoinor 2003).
This phenomena was observed nearly everywhere
fron Indonosia lo Woslorn Europo and aII lho vay
lo Nov EngIand. This providos slrong ovidonco for
alnosphoric dislurbanco inlo lho slralosphoro. This
is further supported by accounts that claim, neither
surfaco vinds, nor rain vouId disporso lho Iingoring
History has shown us that volcanic eruptions are
associated with colder!than!normal temperatures at
lho Earlh's surfaco, and Tanbora vas no oxcoplion.
Avorago lonporaluros foII 1C lo 2.5C boIov nornaI
lhroughoul Nov EngIand and lho Brilish IsIos, and
lho gIobaI avorago is oslinalod lo havo faIIon by 0.4 lo
0.7C. (Sigurdsson et al. 2000).
This had significanl hunan inpacl on nany
rogions across lho vorId lhroughoul lho noxl 2 yoars.
Abundanl ovidonco oxisls for oxlrono voalhor in
1816, ospociaIIy during lho spring and sunnor in
Indonosia, lho Brilish IsIos, Norlh Anorica, and parls
of Canada.
Tho aroa vilhin up lo a 200 In radius fron
Tanbora vas hardosl hil by lho 1815 oruplion. Of
lho isIand of Sunbava's 12,000 inhabilanls, onIy
26 survivod. In addilion lo lho doalh loII fron lho
oruplion and lho subsoquonl oarlhquaIos, pyrocIaslic
flows and tsunamis associated with the event are
conservatively estimated to have a death toll of
90,000 |usl vilhin lho firsl coupIo of days. For lhoso
who survived the initial devastation, there was little
rofugo. Tho vasl anounls of ash quicIIy lainlod lho
valor suppIy and nado lho air choIingIy lhicI vilh
fino dusl and ash. Fanino and disoaso quicIIy sproad
lhroughoul lho rogion and lho oxacl nunbor of doad
nay novor bo Inovn.
British Isles
The volcanic cloud traveled around the world,
and vilhin 3 nonlhs, ils oplicaI affocls voro obsorvod
al dislanl Iocalions in Europo (Ranpino et al. 1988).
As stated in the section on aerosols, the effect of
lho voIcanic aorosoI cIouds nay produco a significanl
drop in surface pressure across midlatitudes of the
Norlh AlIanlic soclor, Ioading lo a soulhvard shifl in
lho lracI laIon by niddIo-Ialiludo cycIonos. Ranpino
et al. 1988 lhon prodicls lhal a na|or anonaIy vouId
lhus bo conlorod ovor EngIand and vouId oxlond ovor
nuch of Woslorn Europo, giving riso lo a coId and vol
Tho sunnor of 1816 vas cooI and oxcoodingIy
vol. Massivo crop FaiIuros Iod lo fanino, disoaso,
and sociaI unrosl (Ranpino et al. 1988). In conlraI
EngIand, lho lonporaluro vas aboul 1.5C cooIor
lhan during lho sunnor of 1815 (Opponhoinor 2003).
Typhus was reported in almost every town and
viIIago in EngIand, and vas roporlod in nany cilios
lhroughoul ScolIand. An inlorosling sido nolo, lhis
poriod coincidos vilh pubIicalion of Mary ShoIIoy s
Frankenstein and Lord Byron's poon Darkness.
In IroIand, around 800,000 poopIo voro infoclod
during lho lyphus opidonic, and of lhal, 4,300
porishod fron lho |oinl ravagos of fanino, dysonlory
and fovor (Opponhoinor 2003). EIsovhoro in Europo,
lho sunnor of 1816 vas aIso roporlod lo ono of lho
nosl nisorabIo vinlors in roconl hislory.
North America
1816 vas narIod by a porsislonl dry fog, or
dim sun, as reported in the northeastern United
Slalos. According lo a roporl fron Nov YorI, lho
atmospheric pollution reddened and dimmed the sun
so nuch lhal sunspols voro visibIo lo lho naIod oyo
(Opponhoinor 2003). Tho lolaI Iunar ocIipso on }uno
vas aIso roporlod lo bo oxlronoIy darIor lhan
nornaI. Tho sunnor of 1816 vas lho coIdosl in Nov
Havon, Connoclicul, for lho onliro poriod fron 1780
lo 1968 (Ranpino el at. 1988). On }uno 4
, frosts were
roporlod in Connoclicul and, by lho foIIoving day,
a coId fronl grippod nosl of Nov EngIand. On }uno
, snov foII in AIbany Nov YorI, and DonnysviIIo
Maino, and lhoro voro IiIIing frosls al FairfioId
Connoclicul. Sovoro frosls had sproad as far as soulh
as Tronlon Nov }orsoy lho noxl day (Opponhoinor
2003). Such condilions porsislod ovor lho noxl 3
nonlhs, vhich shorlonod lho groving soason and
rosuIlod in aInosl lolaI faiIuro of nain crops.
Canada aIso oxporioncod sovoro voalhor and lho
sano coId vavo lhal hil Nov EngIand. In MonlroaI,
snow fell June 6
lo lho 8
1816, and 30 cn of snov
accunuIalod noar Quoboc Cily (Opponhoinor
2003). UnIiIo Indonosia, Anorica and lho Brilish
isIos, lho Canadian popuIalion avoidod sorious
social distress from the severe weather, primarily
lhanIs lo an onbargo on grain oxporls bolvoon }uIy
and Soplonbor 1816 and lo lho favorabIo ralio of
popuIalion lo rosourcos.
IIunos vhich do nol broaI lhrough lho
lroposphoro, or vhich occur al high Ialiludos, havo
fovor gIobaI consoquoncos (Opponhoinor 2003).
VoIcanic oruplions can inlroduco Iargo quanlilios
of ash and nagnalic gasos inlo lho alnosphoro,
which may affect atmospheric dynamics, and thereby
dolornino ils ovn dislribulion lhroughoul lho
alnosphoro and nay havo had slrong inpacls on
rogionaI and gIobaI cIinalo (Sigurdsson et al. 2000).
Largo oruplions do nol nocossariIy produco groalor or
more protracted temperature anomalies, rather only
lhoso voIcanoos vilh vory oxpIosivo oruplions aro of
concorn lo lho cIinalo and slralosphoric chonislry.
AorosoIs fron lropicaI oruplions IiIo Mounl Iinalubo
in 1991 (15N) did sproad gIobaIIy in lho slralosphoro.
However, aerosols from many tropical eruptions,
such as EI Chichn (I7N) in 1982, havo ronainod
IargoIy in lhoir honisphoro of origin (Opponhoinor
2003). NaluraI dynanicaI porlurbalion Iaslod Ioss
lhan a yoar in lho caso of Iinalubo, naIing il Ioss
vorrisono lhan Iong-lorn ozono dopIolion obsorvod
al nidIaliludos (Sigurdsson et al. 2000).
IarlicIos of radius groalor lhan lvo n faII
al ralos of noro lhan 30 In por yoar in lho Iovor
slralosphoro, onsuring lhoir ronovaI vilhin nonlhs.
Thus, sodinonlalion Iinils lho sizo of slralosphoric
aorosoI, naIing il unIiIoIy lhal voIcanic aorosoI couId
bo Iargo onough lo varn lho Earlh for significanl
poriods of lino (Sigurdsson et al. 2000). Tho voIcanic
cloud from the Tambora eruption traveled around
the world, and within three months, its optical
offocls voro obsorvod al dislanl Iocalions lhroughoul
Europo (Ranpino et al. 1988). Hislory has shovn
us, however, that volcanic eruptions associated with
colder!than!normal temperatures at the Earths surface
because of increases in the planetary albedo decrease
lho anounl of radialion absorbod, and aIso lho Earlh's
lonporaluro (Sigurdsson et al. 2000). Tho foIIoving
yoar (1816) vas narIod by a porsislonl dry fog, or
dim Sun, as reported in the northeastern United Slates
(Ranpino et al. 1988).
Woalhor rocordod in Indonosia, lho Brilish
IsIos and Norlh Anorica fils in cIosoIy vilh lho
sunnor cooIing and vinlor varning oxpoclod for
lho norlhorn honisphoros rosponso lo na|or suIfalo
aorosoI voiIs. Eslinalos fron norlhorn honisphoro
lonporaluro dala suggosl lhal Tanbora cooIod lho
alnosphoro by 0.4 lo 0.7C (Sigurdsson et al. 2000).
The atmospheric and climatic effects of the eruption
affoclod lho Norlhorn Honisphoro unliI 1817 (SoIf et
al. 1989).
Il soons pIausibIo lhal Tanbora's oruplion,
and ils gIobaI cIinalic roach roaIIy pIayod a roIo in
lho oulbroaIs of disoaso fron 1816-19. Far boyond
Indonosia, lho pallorn of cIinalic anonaIios has boon
blamed for the severity of a typhus epidemic and the
groal opidonic of choIora lhal broIo oul in BongaI in
1816-17 (Opponhoinor 2003). Hovovor, lho opidonic
of choIora is lhoughl lo havo arison bocauso of lroop
novononls in India dispIacing poopIo oul of lho
endemic source of the disease, and the epidemic did
nol roach Europo unliI 1831-32. Tho Nov EngIand
rogion vas probabIy parlicuIarIy vuInorabIo lo
disaslor bocauso farning vas aIroady laIing pIaco
on cIinaloIogicaIIy narginaI Iands, and lhoro vas
increased competition from the mid!western USA and
conlraI Canada (Opponhoinor 2003).
A Tanbora-sizo oruplion in lho 21
century will
havo nuch noro profound affocls on hunans Iiving
on an overcrowded Earth, where natural resources are
aIroady slrainod lo lho Iinil. Il has boon caIcuIalod
lhal lhoro is porhaps as high as a 10% chanco of a
Tanbora-sizod oruplion occurring sonovhoro in
lho noxl 50 yoars, and lhal il is noro IiIoIy lo bo
in Indonosia lhan any olhor counlry (Ranpino et
al. 1988). WiII Duranl offorod us lhis sinpIo, yol
profound slalononl: CiviIizalion oxisls by gooIogic
consonl, sub|ocl lo chango vilhoul nolico!
Figure 1: Divisions of Earths atmosphere
Figure 2: Aerosol sources and cycles into
the atmosphere (from US Climate Change
Science Program)
Table 1: Comparison of selected volcanic eruptions (after Oppenheimer 2003).
Opponhoinor C. (2003). Climatic, environmental and
human consequences of the largest known historic
eruption: Tambora volcano (indonesia) 1815. Irogross
in IhysicaI Goography: VoI. 27: pg. 230 -259.
Ranpino, M.R., S. SoIf, R. B. Slolhors. (1988). Volcanic
Winters. AnnuaI Roviov of Earlh and IIanolary
Scioncos: VoI. 16, pg. 83-85.
Ranpino, M.R., Novlon, M.S., and WoIff }.A. (1989).
Volcanological Study of the Great Tambora Eruption
of 1815: GooIogy, VoI. 12, pg. 659-663.
SadIor, }.I and Grallan. (}uIy 1999). Volcanoes as
Agents of Past Environmental Change. GIoba1 and
IIanolary Chango: VoI.21, pg. 184-187, 192
Sigurdsson H., Houghlon B.F., McNull S.R., Rynor
H., Slix }. (2000). Encyclopedia of Volcanoes.
Acadonic Iross, San Diogo: pg. 10-11, 932-935,
This is rosoarch papor vrillon for GooIogy 470