Volcano activity is one of the most important factors that affect global climate change. Strong volcanic eruptions will release huge amounts of SO2 and sulfate aerosols that will strongly absorb solar radiation into the stratosphere, creating a global layer of sulfuric acid haze and cooling the Earth’s climate for more than 1 year. In this blog, I’ll introduce a volcanic eruption that somehow affected the global climate and historical progress.
From 8 June 1783 to 7 February 1784, the Laki volcanic system in Iceland continuously erupted for 8 months, outpouring more than 120 million tons of SO2 into the atmosphere and leading led to the formation of “Laki haze” across Europe. Besides from the local influence that 20%-25% of Iceland’s population died in the famine and fluoride poisoning in the coming winter, this unexpected volcanic eruption also contributed significantly to several years of extreme weather in Europe. For example, in France, under the dual effect of “Laki haze” and strong El Niño phenomenon, farmers suffered from continuous droughts in 1785. And the poverty and famine caused by these serious droughts may have contributed to the French Revolution in 1789.And in North America, the winter of 1784 became the longest and coldest on record. The extreme cold weather even delayed Congressmen in coming to Annapolis to vote for the Treaty of Paris.