Collection |

Volcanoes and Climate

The year 2016 marks the 200th anniversary of the year without a summer caused by the 1815 Tambora eruption. Today it may be celebrated for its effects on art and literature, but it also resulted in famine and suffering around the globe. While the biggest volcanic eruptions – including large igneous provinces like the Siberian Traps – are known to be linked to climate upheaval and even mass extinctions, emerging work shows that under the right conditions, smaller eruptions or series of eruptions can also affect climate. This collection explores the historical records of climate and ecological change associated with volcanic activity, as well as the factors that control the climate effects of an eruption.  


  • Nature Geoscience | Commentary

    The 1815 eruption of Tambora caused an unusually cold summer in much of Europe in 1816. The extreme weather led to poor harvests and malnutrition, but also demonstrated the capability of humans to adapt and help others in worse conditions.

    • J. Luterbacher
    •  &  C. Pfister
  • Nature Climate Change | Commentary

    Recent observed global warming is significantly less than that simulated by climate models. This difference might be explained by some combination of errors in external forcing, model response and internal climate variability.

    • John C. Fyfe
    • , Nathan P. Gillett
    •  &  Francis W. Zwiers
  • Nature Geoscience | Commentary

    200 years after the eruption of Mount Tambora, the eruption volume remains poorly known, as is true for other volcanic eruptions over past millennia. We need better records of size and occurrence if we are to predict future large eruptions more accurately.

    • Stephen Self
    •  &  Ralf Gertisser
  • Nature Geoscience | News & Views

    The rise and fall of civilizations over the past two millennia was set against a backdrop of climate change. High-resolution climate records evince a link between societal change and a period of cooling in the sixth and seventh centuries.

    • John Haldon


  • Nature Geoscience | Progress Article

    Sea surface temperatures have varied over the past 2,000 years. A synthesis of surface-temperature reconstructions shows ocean surface cooling from ad 1 to 1800, with much of the trend from 800 to 1800 driven by volcanic eruptions.

    • Helen V. McGregor
    • , Michael N. Evans
    • , Hugues Goosse
    • , Guillaume Leduc
    • , Belen Martrat
    • , Jason A. Addison
    • , P. Graham Mortyn
    • , Delia W. Oppo
    • , Marit-Solveig Seidenkrantz
    • , Marie-Alexandrine Sicre
    • , Steven J. Phipps
    • , Kandasamy Selvaraj
    • , Kaustubh Thirumalai
    • , Helena L. Filipsson
    •  &  Vasile Ersek
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    The role played by volcanic-induced cooling in the recent warming hiatus is not accurately described in the latest phase of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project. Here, the authors use satellite and aircraft data to investigate the radiative impact of volcanic aerosols in the lowermost stratosphere since the year 2000.

    • Sandra M. Andersson
    • , Bengt G. Martinsson
    • , Jean-Paul Vernier
    • , Johan Friberg
    • , Carl A. M. Brenninkmeijer
    • , Markus Hermann
    • , Peter F. J. van Velthoven
    •  &  Andreas Zahn
  • Nature | Letter

    The North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) is an important source of climate variability in the Northern Hemisphere; here, a model-tested reconstruction of the NAO for the past millennium reveals that positive NAO phases were predominant during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, but not during the whole medieval period.

    • Pablo Ortega
    • , Flavio Lehner
    • , Didier Swingedouw
    • , Valerie Masson-Delmotte
    • , Christoph C. Raible
    • , Mathieu Casado
    •  &  Pascal Yiou
  • Nature Communications | Article

    While present in palaeoclimate records, the drivers behind 20-year climate variability are poorly understood. Here, using climate simulations and in situ and palaeo data, the authors present a possible link between volcanic eruptions, Great Salinity Anomalies and the Atlantic overturning circulation.

    • Didier Swingedouw
    • , Pablo Ortega
    • , Juliette Mignot
    • , Eric Guilyardi
    • , Valérie Masson-Delmotte
    • , Paul G. Butler
    • , Myriam Khodri
    •  &  Roland Séférian