Send to

Choose Destination
Nature. 2015 Jul 30;523(7562):543-9. doi: 10.1038/nature14565. Epub 2015 Jul 8.

Timing and climate forcing of volcanic eruptions for the past 2,500 years.

Author information

Desert Research Institute, Nevada System of Higher Education, Reno, Nevada 89512, USA.
Department of Earth and Space Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98195, USA.
Space Sciences Laboratory, University of California, Berkeley, California 94720, USA.
School of Geography, Archaeology and Palaeoecology, Queen's University Belfast, Belfast BT7 1NN, UK.
Yale Climate and Energy Institute, and Department of History, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut 06511, USA.
1] Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL, 8903 Birmensdorf, Switzerland [2] Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research, University of Bern, 3012 Bern, Switzerland [3] Global Change Research Centre AS CR, 60300 Brno, Czech Republic.
1] Department of Physics, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana 47907, USA [2] Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana 47907, USA.
Centre for Ice and Climate, Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen, 2100 Copenhagen, Denmark.
1] Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research, University of Bern, 3012 Bern, Switzerland [2] Climate and Environmental Physics, University of Bern, 3012 Bern, Switzerland.
Alfred-Wegener-Institut Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung, 27570 Bremerhaven, Germany.
Department of History, The University of Nottingham, Nottingham NG7 2RD, UK.
Department of Geology, Quaternary Sciences, Lund University, 22362 Lund, Sweden.
British Antarctic Survey, Natural Environment Research Council, Cambridge CB3 0ET, UK.
The Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona 85721, USA.
Department of Physics, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana 47907, USA.


Volcanic eruptions contribute to climate variability, but quantifying these contributions has been limited by inconsistencies in the timing of atmospheric volcanic aerosol loading determined from ice cores and subsequent cooling from climate proxies such as tree rings. Here we resolve these inconsistencies and show that large eruptions in the tropics and high latitudes were primary drivers of interannual-to-decadal temperature variability in the Northern Hemisphere during the past 2,500 years. Our results are based on new records of atmospheric aerosol loading developed from high-resolution, multi-parameter measurements from an array of Greenland and Antarctic ice cores as well as distinctive age markers to constrain chronologies. Overall, cooling was proportional to the magnitude of volcanic forcing and persisted for up to ten years after some of the largest eruptive episodes. Our revised timescale more firmly implicates volcanic eruptions as catalysts in the major sixth-century pandemics, famines, and socioeconomic disruptions in Eurasia and Mesoamerica while allowing multi-millennium quantification of climate response to volcanic forcing.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Nature Publishing Group
Loading ...
Support Center