Biggest Volcanic Eruption in History Altered Global Climate

Image: Wikimedia
Image: Wikimedia

The 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora was the biggest volcanic explosion in history and had debilitating effects all around the world.

Mount Tambora is a stratovolcano located on the island of Sumbawa, Indonesia. After decades of quiet magma accumulation and little activity, the volcano erupted on April 10, 1815 — resulting in the largest recorded explosion in history, rated as a VEI-7. The event immediately killed over 10,000 people within the vicinity but it was its long-term affects that resulted in the death of hundreds of thousands worldwide.

The year 1816 is referred to as the ‘Year Without a Summer’ due to Tambora’s devastating disturbances to the climate. While the eruption covered proximate areas in a heavy curtain of ash, smaller particles were forced into the atmosphere, resulting in stratospheric abnormalities and a massive global temperature decrease of about 0.4–0.7 °C (0.7–1.3 °F).

Image: WikipediaImage: Wikipedia

The Northern Hemisphere experienced the worst effects of the climate change which essentially contributed to an agricultural disaster. A thick fog hung over the earth that summer, blocking out the light and effectively reducing crop growth. In addition, the lowered temperatures created extensive frosting of the earth’s crust, which decimated most of the agriculture at higher elevations. Snow was reported in the middle of summer and days would go by without sunlight. 

The eruption contributed to the worst famine of the 19th century, resulting in the death of thousands of starving people and livestock primarily throughout New England, Atlantic Canada, and Western Europe.