Publication Abstracts

Stothers 2000

Stothers, R.B., 2000: Climatic and demographic consequences of the massive volcanic eruption of 1258. Climatic Change, 45, 361-374, doi:10.1023/A:1005523330643.

Somewhere in the tropics, a volcano exploded violently during the year 1258, producing a massive stratospheric aerosol veil that eventually blanketed the globe. Arctic and Antarctic ice cores suggest that this was the world largest volcanic eruption of the past millenium. According to contemporary chronicles, the stratospheric dry fog possibly manifested itself in Europe as a persistently cloudy aspect of the sky and also through an apparently total darkening of the eclipsed Moon. Based on a sudden temperature drop for several months in England, the eruption's initiation date can be inferred to have been probably January 1258. The frequent cold and rain that year led to severe crop damage and famine throughout much of Europe. Pestilence repeatedly broke out in 1258 and 1259; it occurred also in the Middle East, reportedly as plague. Another very cold winter followed in 1260-1261. The troubled period's wars, famines, pestilences, and earthquakes appear to have contributed in part to the rise of the European flagellant movement of 1260, one of the most bizarre social phenomena of the Middle Ages. Analogies can be drawn with the climatic aftereffects and European social unrest following another great tropical eruption, Tambora in 1815. Some generalizations about the climatic impacts of tropical eruptions are made from these and other data.