Faraway Volcanoes Shrunk the Mighty Nile
Volcanic eruptions on Iceland generated a cascade of events that led to record low levels of water in the Nile River in Africa and brought famine to the region more than two centuries ago, a new study concludes.
The findings will inform climate forecasting related to future volcanic activity.
From June 1783 through February 1784, a series of 10 eruptions from the Laki Craters on this European island in the North Atlantic changed atmospheric conditions in most of the Northern Hemisphere.
Unusual temperature and precipitation patterns peaked in the summer of 1783, causing below normal rainfall in most of the Nile drainage basin and therefore record low levels in the mighty river for up to one year following the eruptions.
When volcanic eruptions occur, large amounts of sulfur dioxide are released into the atmosphere. When this gas combines with water vapor, aerosol particles form. These particles reflect sunlight back to space and therefore cool average temperatures on Earth.