10 April 1815, the Mount Tambora eruption and the beginning of the ‘Year Without a Summer’

The Mount Tambora volcano begins a three-month-long eruption, which ultimately kills 71,000 people, and affects Earth’s climate for the next two years.

The first explosions were heard on this Island in the evening of 5 April, they were noticed in every quarter, and continued at intervals until the following day. The noise was, in the first instance, almost universally attributed to distant cannon.

Sir Stamford Raffle

The Mount Tambora volcano begins a three-month-long eruption, lasting until July 15. The eruption ultimately kills 71,000 people and affects Earth’s climate for the next two years.

The year 1816 is known as the Year Without a Summer (also “the Poverty Year”, “the Summer that Never Was”, “Year There Was No Summer”, and “Eighteen Hundred and Froze to Death”) because of severe climate abnormalities that caused average global temperatures to decrease by 0.4–0.7 °C (0.7–1.3 °F). This resulted in major food shortages across the Northern Hemisphere.

Evidence suggests that the anomaly was predominantly a volcanic winter event caused by the massive 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora in the Dutch East Indies (the largest eruption in at least 1,300 years after the extreme weather events of 535–536), perhaps plus the 1814 eruption of Mayon in the Philippines. The Earth had already been in a centuries-long period of global cooling that started in the 14th century. Known today as the Little Ice Age, it had already caused considerable agricultural distress in Europe. The Little Ice Age’s existing cooling was aggravated by the eruption of Tambora, which occurred during its concluding decades.

Several climate forcings coincided and interacted in a systematic manner that has not been observed since, despite other large eruptions that have occurred since the early Stone Age. Although the link between the post-eruption climate changes and the Tambora event has been established by various scientists, the understanding of the processes involved is incomplete.

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