What Caused the "Year Without a Summer"?

Snow in June? It wasn't so unusual in the "year without a summer".
Snow in June? It wasn't so unusual in the "year without a summer".

The "Year Without A Summer" refers to the year 1816. This year is also referred to as the "Poverty Year". The year experience drastic climate abnormalities that caused a significant decrease in the average global temperature. The abnormal climate mainly occurred across the Northern Hemisphere, causing food shortages.

Causes of the "Year Without A Summer"

At the time of the freezing temperatures, scientists had no idea what caused the drastic changes. The climate around 1816 is now thought to have been caused by Mount Tambora erupting in Indonesia in April 1815. This volcanic eruption is considered the biggest in history. During the eruption, the mountain ejected tons of ash, dust, and sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere causing the global temperature to fall as much as 37 degrees Fahrenheit. Before Mount Tambora’s volcanic eruption, there had been other series of volcanic eruptions with the closest being the 1814’s volcanic eruption of Mount Mayon in the Philippines. There was also an eruption at Suwanosejima in Japan in the year 1813.

Effects Of The Mount Tambora Eruption

There are reports that volcanic eruption of Mount Tambora led to ash covering the ocean surface around the area, which proved a significant problem for ships using that route. During this period after a series of volcanic eruptions, crops failed due to frost and lack of sunlight leading to food shortages. In the United Kingdom and France, food riots erupted, and grain stores were looted. Switzerland, which is a landlocked country, was forced to declare a national emergency due to the severe famine in the land. Other areas affected by famine during this period include China and New England. Major rivers in Europe experienced floods due to abnormal rainfall. Due to a combination of weather disasters and famine, the cholera epidemic was severe at this time leading to the death of millions of people. This period of drastic changes experienced snow in June and severe frost in August.

Innovations During The 'Year Without A Summer'

With the failure of crops in 1816 especially oats, there were no feeds for horses. This shortage of oats led to Karl Drais, a German inventor, coming up with horseless transportation. The invention of Karl Drais led to the modern bicycle. Some literary legend traveled to Lake Geneva on vacation and ended up staying indoors due to the chilly, rainy conditions. Their stay in these conditions inspired Mary Shelly to write Frankenstein which turned out to be her classic novel and the poet Lord Byron wrote Darkness, a poem describing his experience in the gloomy summer.

Major Eruptions In Modern Time

Scientists claim that significant volcanic eruptions can happen at any time without warning. If big volcanoes erupt in the modern time, the effects would be devastating since the world’s population is now in billions. Some scientists claim that such a volcano would cause a change in the climate that might temporarily relieve humanity of the effects of global warming.


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