Missing the Missing Summer

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

Since I was a kid I’ve been reading stories about “The Year Without A Summer”. This was the summer of 1816, one year after the great eruption of the Tambora volcano in Indonesia. The Tambora eruption, in April of 1815, was so huge it could be heard from 2,600 km away (1,600 miles). The stories were always about how the following summer was outrageously cold. Supposedly, the summer was so cold it was like having no summer at all.

Being a suspicious fellow, I got to thinking about that, and I realized I’d never seen any actual temperature data for the year of 1816. So I went off to find some early temperature data. I started with the ECA dataset, and downloaded the Daily Mean Temperature TG (162Mb). That revealed five stations with daily temperature records with starting dates before 1816—Stockholm, Bologna, Milan, Praha-Klementinum, and Hohenpeissenberg.

So once again, I found myself playing “Spot the Volcanoes”, as in my previous post on this subject. When I wrote that post, I hadn’t been able to spot the smaller eruptions of Pinatubo and other modern volcanoes, but Tambora was the big cheese, the grand gorgonzola of volcanoes. Surely I could find that one … so here’s the record from Stockholm.

Figure 1. Two ten-year periods from the early 1800’s in Stockholm

So the question is, which year is “The Year Without A Summer”? The year indicated by the blue arrow, or the year shown by the green arrow?

Actually, I fear that was a trick question. Here’s the same data, this time with the years indicated.

Figure 2. Two ten-year periods from the early 1800’s in Stockholm, including the dates.

As you can see, the “Year Without A Summer” actually was warmer than a number of other summers in Stockholm. It’s the third peak from the left in the top panel, and was above 20°C. Just in this tiny sample we see some six summers that were cooler than the summer of 1816 in Stockholm …

So, I looked at the other locations. Here are the other four European cities with records that cover the Tambora eruption—Bologna, Milan, Praha-Klementinum, and Hohenpeissenberg. In these, both the upper and lower panels are from the early 1800s. No more trick questions, in all cases, one or the other of the green and blue arrows actually indicates the “Year Without A Summer”.

Figure 3. Two ten-year periods from the early 1800’s in Bologna.

Figure 4. Two ten-year periods from the early 1800’s in Milan.

Figure 5. Two ten-year periods from the early 1800’s in Praha-Klementinum.

Figure 6. Two ten-year periods from the early 1800’s in Hohenpeissenberg.

That was all the daily temperature records I could find from that far back. There’s a monthly record from Armagh, in Ireland. Here’s that record.

Figure 6. Two ten-year periods from the early 1800’s in Armagh.

I’m sure that you can see the difficulty. If Tambora actually did something to the temperature, you sure couldn’t tell it from these records. Not one of them is readily distinguishable as missing a summer.

In “The Great Tambora Eruption in 1815 and Its Aftermath” (paywalled, Science Magazine, 1984), the author says (emphasis mine):

To Europeans and North Americans, 1816 became known as “the year without a summer” (41). Daily temperatures (especially the daily minimums) were in many cases abnormally low from late spring through early fall; frequent north-west winds brought snow and frost to northern New England and Canada, and heavy rains fell in western Europe. Many crops failed to ripen, and the poor harvests led to famine, disease, and so- cial distress, compounded by the aftermath of the Napoleonic wars.Tambora’s dust veil is often blamed by modern researchers for the cold summer of 1816. The argument given is that the stratospheric dust veil would have absorbed or reflected solar radiation that could otherwise have reached the ground (42). Not all regions,however, experienced abnormally low temperatures, and the preceding winter had generally been mild. Therefore, a few researchers deny that there was any (or at least a strong) connection with the volcano (39,43).

I’m leaning towards the “few researchers” that deny a strong connection with Tambora. What other records do we have? Well, over at KNMI I find the record for Manchester, England:

Figure 6. Two ten-year periods from the early 1800’s in Manchester.

Moving across the Atlantic, here’s the record from New Haven in Connecticut.

Figure 6. Two ten-year periods from the early 1800’s in New Haven, Connecticut.

I’m just not feeling the Tambora love here … where are the records of years without a summer? Or at least of a summer that’s significantly colder than its neighbors?

Don’t get me wrong here. I suspect that generally, the summer of 1816 was a bit colder than most summers. But as the graphs above show, in all of these datasets there are comparable summers within a few decades either side of 1816 that have summers that are as cool, or cooler, than the summer of 1816.

And I would guess that a careful search would reveal some records with cooler summers than the ones I’ve found here. But overall, let me suggest that over the years the Tambora story has gotten greatly exaggerated, just as we do today with our stories of “Cold? You haven’t seen real cold. Why, when I was a young man it was so cold that …”

Conclusions? Well, my main conclusion is what I’ve been saying for some time. The temperature of the earth is not particularly ruled by the changes in how much energy it receives. Tambora cut off a huge amount of sunlight, but the effect was small. Yes, some areas had a summer that was a bit cooler than most summers. And I’m sure there were certain locations where it hit harder than others. But overall? The thermostatic mechanisms of the planet kept Tambora from having a much of a cooling effect.

My best to all. I append all of the figures below, with the dates, so you can see the lack of effect. Note that in many of them, the temperature in 1815 was about the same as 1816 … and that despite the size of the volcano, if there was any effect, it was totally gone by 1817.

w.

If that’s what a really big volcano can do, I’m not impressed. Well, I am impressed, but what’s impressive is the strength of the thermostatic mechanisms that keep the earth’s temperature within a very narrow band. Even a huge volcano can’t put it out of sorts for much more than one summer, and even then not too much.

[UPDATE] Someone in the comments said:
The place to look for the effect of volcanic eruptions on the climate is in food commodity prices. That is where climate change has its greatest impact on human society. In those records the Tambora eruption is unmissable.
John West in reply pointed to a great study of historical UK food prices, The Price History of English Agriculture, 1209-1914. From that study …
If the effect of Tambora is greatest in food commodity prices, well, the prices in 1816 were the lowest in the entire decade, so do we need more volcanoes?
As I have said more than once, the effect of volcanoes (and by implication the effect of changes in forcing in general) on temperature is vastly over-rated.
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261 thoughts on “Missing the Missing Summer

  1. These graphs were daily mean temperatures. Are there daily minimum temperatures that could be plotted over decades?

  2. Your intended trick question isn’t a trick question, since the dates are present in Figure 1.

    [REPLY: Grrrr ... proofreading 10 different graphs, the title was right but the contents wrong ... fixed, in any case, and thanks. -w.]

  3. Let’s accept the above as true, “Even a huge volcano can’t put it out of sorts for much more than one summer, and even then not too much.”
    Now let’s consider the recent papers that stated that a period of intense volcano activity initiated the last ice age. Hmmm… using a quick Onager estimate, the whole earth must have been erupting, and did so for several centuries, for huge glaciation to have occurred for over 100,000 years.

  4. pretty amazing, really. Really illustrates how susceptible we are to myths and exaggeration about weather and climate. Thanks Willis, impressive as always.

  5. I wondered if the real difference was in precipitation?…. Sometimes people tend to mistake unusually wet for unusually cold and vice versa. For instance, this winter in Spokane was strictly average for temperature but abnormally dry and unsnowy. All the media have been calling it warm and mild.

    But no. A quick look at the Klementinum data shows a nice period of strictly average precip around 1816!

  6. Have these data been processed thorugh Mann and Hansen’s disgronificator? We can’t know what the temperatures actually were until we decide what we want them to have been… (that verb tense is what I call the “past superfluous”).

  7. Interesting indeed! Especially interesting in considering arguments that volcanic eruptions can sustain global cooling for long periods of time, including whole glacial periods in the past. Volcanic eruptions are short, punctuated events, not well suited to generating and sustaining long glacial periods. Although this one example is probably typical, similar data on other large eruptions would be nice. What Willis has shown in this example is the kind of real evidence needed to demonstrate whether or not volcanic activity is a viable cause of long-term climate change, as claimed by a number of recent publications.

  8. Based on this “history” — maybe it really was the “low” temperatures on a relatively few key summer days in “sensitive” locations that lead to the stories regarding the year without a summer. I read it snowed in June in Ohio. I also read this:

    “In April 1815, Mt. Tambora, .. exploded…

    In some parts of the world, the impact was minor but in much of Europe it caused near famine conditions. In New England it helped change history…

    Several cold spells in May 1816 delayed the start of the planting season. June began well, but crops were lost in a cold spell between the 5th and 11th. Snow accumulated throughout all but southernmost New Hampshire. A warm spell starting the last third of June provided hope that summer had arrived, but a killing frost on July 9th dashed that hope. The rest of the month was warmer, but didn’t equal the warmest days of June. A warming trend in August abruptly ended with frost on the 21st and a worse one on the 30th. …

    After 1816, the weather returned to normal conditions quickly. However, farmers had already started emigrating to the more hospitable weather and soil of Ohio and further west…”

  9. What this demonstrates is just how fragile our agricultural system has been to quite small climate changes.
    As the graphs show the difference between a good and bad year can be just a degree or so, hardly perceptable on a graph of several decades and apparently not much different from other years without the influence of a volcanic cooling event.

    The place to look for the effect of volcanic eruptions on the climate is in food commodity prices. That is where climate change has its greatest impact on human society. In those records the Tambora eruption is unmissable.

  10. There was a series of large volcanic eruptions starting in 1812, so a comparison with pre-1812 temps would be appropriate. In Europe and China the main effect was heavy rain and lack of sunshine causing crops to fail. Indicating aerosol seeded clouds were the main effect.

    The unusual cold in eastern N America might have been a consequence or it might just have been coincidental.

  11. I’m going to reply before I read the full post. I don’t think I’ll be too far afield, if so I’ll do a followup.

    I’ve written a web page titled 1816: The Year without a Summer A New Hampshire Perspective. I think New England is where the phrase came from, we ceratinly can take credit for “Eighteen Hundred and Froze to Death.”

    First a correction. You say “The Tambora eruption, in April of 1815, was so huge it could be heard from 2,600 km away (1,600 miles). That was the Krakatoa eruption in 1883. There were a lot more Europeans in Indonesia then and the telegraph communications helped get the news about Krakatoa’s explosion to Europe much more quickly than the Tambora eruption. (I wouldn’t be surprised if Krakatoa were louder too. I doubt loudness correlates all that well with material and SO2 released.)

    Second, the summer of 1816 wasn’t cold all the time. It was very cold some of the time. I concluded that the major effect was that the norther jet stream didn’t migrate as far north that summer as usual. For example, I note:

    Several cold spells in May 1816 delayed the start of the planting season. June began well, but crops were lost in a cold spell between the 5th and 11th. Snow accumulated throughout all but southernmost New Hampshire. A warm spell starting the last third of June provided hope that summer had arrived, but a killing frost on July 9th dashed that hope. The rest of the month was warmer, but didn’t equal the warmest days of June. A warming trend in August abruptly ended with frost on the 21st and a worse one on the 30th.

    The apple crop did quite well due to the lack of insects. That means the blossom managed to miss a freeze, so even in the spring there were stretches of frost-free weather.

    Further south, the agricultural impact in Virginia was minor. They would have missed out on the frosts in pretty much any event, but what I recall from my readings was that people’s journals didn’t have much to say about the summer being abnormal.

    There were also significant impacts in Europe, but I’m not so conversant about them. One piece of triva – Mary Shelley wrote her novel Frankenstein during her vacation to Switzerland in 1816 when the weather was so inhospitable that she and her friends spent little time outside. http://www.atlantisjournal.org/ARCHIVE/28.2/2006Phillips.pdf is worth reading.

  12. Apparently the climate mechanisms are watching over us, instead of we (humanity) influencing on a global scale the climate. How fortunate we are to live on earth!!

  13. Why so many graphs without any dates??
    And the two first wher one is supposed to have no dated, both graphs have dates…
    Why not simply show one copy of each graph, with proper dates? It would be easier to follow.

    Other than that I remember reading about “The Year Without A Summer” in Scientific American some ~30 years ago… I was fascinated. If it was all wrong, I am fascinated again…

  14. Perhaps you need to look beyond temperature as the sole arbiter of what makes a summer.
    Sunshine hours? Crop failures, cold spells that cause them? storms?
    As I recall,last year or the year before in the UK was forcast to be a “Barbeque Summer” a dismal non-event.
    There may have been a gap between expectations and actualities that wasn’t tied to one factor.

  15. On a clear sky day with the sun beating down on my red neck, it gets quite hot here in Brisbane. But it cools down nicely by evening when I enjoy a nice cold beer on the verandah.
    During an overcast day the temperature never reaches the heights of the clear sky day. However the nights can be warm and stifling, difficult to sleep.

    How does one determine the above from mean Ts?

  16. As a professional geologist I am greatly impressed by large volcanic eruptions. However, that impressiveness has no relation to climate. As a professional photographer I look forward to the heavy duty red sunrises and sunsets too. That too may be atmospheric but not related to climate. Willis is most correct when he points out, in different terms, that we humans choose
    the mythology we believe. That mythology may or may not have any relationship to reality and over time that relationship seems to disappera all together. I grew up in a small town north of Madison, Wisconsin. Yes when I was a boy not only was it coooold but we had way more snow. Thinking about it, my butt was way closer to the ground too.

  17. Willis, it is true that 1816 was just a case of “one more cold summer”, and not a really, really cold summer anywhere, but the big difference is that this cold summer happened in all places, while normally, if somewhere in the world is particularly cold, it is because it is hotter in other parts. Tambora made the weather everywhere agree that it was cold, so to say. Not to mention that there may have been places where it was actually extremely cold and we just don’t have the records.

    Why don’t you plot the average temperature of all the records that you have for all the years? I mean, something like a “global” temperature of the few records you have. You will probably find Tambora there, shouting out loud. If it doesn’t appear there, then I will have to agree with you.

  18. If you are looking for the effects of a really big volcano, try the Toba event around 74,000 ybp. The Sunda event (around 535 c.e.) was a fun one too. David Keys has an exellent study on the effects of Sunda in his book, Catastrophe. It was also made into an episopde in a series for PBS called “Secrets of the Dead.” That series included a good segment on the demise of Norsemen in Greenland as the LIttle Ice Age set in. But come to think of it, with all the seismic activity in Indonesia lately, I wonder if we’re due for another pyroclyastic event on par with Tambora or Krakatoa.

  19. Just in this tiny sample we see some six summers that were warmer cooler than the summer of 1816 in Stockholm …

    [REPLY: Thanks, fixed. -w.]

  20. Must be something to do with atmospheric pressure ??

    Or ocean – atmosphere heat gradient. The global average near surface atmospheric temperature is a bit less than 2C cooler than the average ocean surface temperature. Reduce the atmospheric temperature by say 0.5C and more heat transfer to the atmosphere through evaporation, and more clouds and rain.

  21. Philip Bradley says:
    April 15, 2012 at 7:59 am
    There was a series of large volcanic eruptions starting in 1812, so a comparison with pre-1812 temps would be appropriate. In Europe and China the main effect was heavy rain and lack of sunshine causing crops to fail. Indicating aerosol seeded clouds were the main effect.
    10Be is deposited by adhering to stratospheric aerosols which then drift down and rain out over the next 1-3 years. The amount of aerosols in the stratosphere is controlled mainly by volcanic eruptions. There were such strong eruptions in 1693 (Hekla on Iceland, having large effect on nearby Greenland), 1809 (see Dai JGR 96, 1991), 1814 (Mayon), 1815 (Tambora), 1883 (Krakatoa), 1964 (Agung).
    So, large volcanic eruptions have a signature in the 10Be concentration in polar ice. That concentration [caused by spallation of nitrogen by cosmic rays] is also used as an indicator of solar activity so the activity record is contaminated by volcanism. You can see that in the 10Be record from Greenland [ http://www.leif.org/EOS/2009GL038004-Berggren.pdf ]. Here is a blowup of the upper panel of their Figure 3 that shows the 10Be concentration with yearly resolution: http://www.leif.org/research/10Be-NGRIP.png little colored dots show the peaks in 1695, 1813, 1817, and 1966. There is also a peak for Krakatoa, and strong peaks back in 1436 and 1460 [possibly matching eruptions back then]. Of course, there are also numerous other peaks and not all ice cores show all the peaks, so local effects of weather and precipitation also play a role. So, volcanoes may not do much to global temperatures, but certainly louse up the record of cosmic rays determined from 10Be. BTW, it is interesting that the total global production of 10Be is only 2 ounces per year, so it is remarkable that we can measure what is deposited in an annual ring in a an ice core 4 inches across.

  22. izen writes “The place to look for the effect of volcanic eruptions on the climate is in food commodity prices. That is where climate change has its greatest impact on human society. In those records the Tambora eruption is unmissable.”

    Possibly so; do you have the charts and can post?

  23. I picked up a bound copy of the issues of the (London) Monthly Magazine for the latter half of 1816 at a book sale many years ago. Here are selected bits of the weather and agricultural reports for July (MM, No. 288, p. 73):

    Meteorological Report
    Average temperature in London (Covent Garden), July 1816: “53.7 of Fahrenheit” = 12.1°C., rainfall “about 4 inches” (~100 mm)

    cf. 1971-2000 normals (Greenwich) July max=22.5°C, July min=12.0°C, rainfall=40 mm.

    Monthly Agricultual Report:
    “The variable spring seasons, and late successive rains have been this year common to both Europe and America, and the corn crops are probable in consequence, to be universally affected. Much of the wheat in Poland has been destroyed, and great part of Germany and Belgium devastated by floods and storms. In France the crops have escape more favourably. So backward a season has not been experienced in this country since the year 1770.”

    So midsummer in southern England was apparently somewhat cooler and much wetter than normal, and wet conditions were obviously fairly widespread across northern Europe. Rick Werme’s report (above) suggests that the poor harvests in New England were mainly a product of low temperatures. Was there a similar effect in the northern hemisphere post-Krakatoa?

  24. Really interesting stuff! I’ve long wondered if the net effect of large volcanic explosions is one of cooling at all, since the Pinatubo explosion after the initial cooling may have caused some decade-long slight tropospheric warming (by cooling the stratosphere).

  25. Summer without a summer, is anectodal evidence. Obviously you have to very cautious, and W is right to check it out.
    But I live in Manchester England. and it only takes 3c and a few clouds to turn a lovely barbeque day into a ‘where the heck has the summer gone’ day.
    and it doesnt take many of those to produce the myth. It doesnt matter what the rest of the world did, we had a lousy summer.
    So the anecdotes dont tell the full story, maybe the stats dont either

  26. In the 1800’s most people were farmers or closely aligned to farmers. As Ric Werme said it was not necessarily the overall temperature of the summer but the killing frosts during the spring and perhaps the extra rain (SO2 + particulates) that wiped out harvests that would be associated in people’s minds as “without summer.” Most people/farmers think of summer as the sunny dry weather that ripens crops and drys hay. Sunshine also helps keep fungus from rotting the crops in the field.

    …Gray-mold rot or Botrytis blight, caused by the wide-spread fungus Botrytis cinerea, affects most vegetable and fruit crops, as well as a large number of shrubs, trees, flowers, and weeds. The disease is favored by cool moist conditions and little or no wind…

    The fungus causes primarily blossom blights and fruit rots, but can also cause damping-off, bud rot, stem cankers or rots, leaf spots or blights, bulb rots, and tuber or root rots. Botrytis is also a problem on fruits and vegetables in cold storage and subsequent shipment because the fungus is able to function at temperatures just above freezing. With some possible exceptions, Botrytis mainly attacks tender tissues (flower petals, buds, or seedlings), weakened or injured tissues, and aging (senescent) and dead tissues. Actively growing tissues, other than flower petals, are seldom invaded directly… http://web.aces.uiuc.edu/vista/pdf_pubs/942.pdf

    Also if it was rainy the temperatures would be moderated. Lows not as low and highs not as high so the averages would not reflect people’s perception. Again the perception would be of a “cool” summer especially since damp weather seems colder to people.

  27. Willis I would tend to believe the reports of the people who lived through it. This was not the first time this happened.

    I think we have here a problem that the perception of a cold summer for humans and the plot of average temperature do not have much to do with each other.

    Let me illustrate: the average summer temperature may be 20C, but if it is (16+34)/2 I would call it an air conditioned summer here an Greece: cool nights and pleasant for swimming days.

    If the average comes from (40+0)/2 in a desert for example, I would call it pretty uncomfortable.

    If it was cloudy all the time and it was (18+22)/2 it would be a disaster for agriculture, with little sun for ripening grapes etc. etc.

    In my opinion the data that will show the problem of the volcano will be: wines , wheat production and similar data connected to human activity.

    Of course your plots illustrate how irrelevant average temparature is with respect to the economic future.

  28. Firstly I would agree that far too weight is given to volcanic “forcings”,. This is just used as a pretext to CO2 warming effect even further. If the significant volcanoes of late 20th c. did not produce the “expected” cooling this is just proof that the positive feedbacks on CO2 forcing are even stronger. “It’s worse than we thought!”. Note that Hansen’s volcanic forcing is stronger than anyone else’s.

    One thing you can also look for is milder winters. That is one thing I noted a year or two back when I was looking the recent volcanoes as Willis did before. In the same way that cloudy whether gives cooler days and warmer nights the blocking effect of volcanic dust gives milder winters.Some of Willis’ graphs show this but not all.

    The anecdotal report that Willis cites here also make mention of that.

    However, it should be noted that this was not just one volcanic event. The decade leading up to Tambora was highly active and one should not be looking for a one year event.

    Also crop yields were crippled by some very late frosts. It only takes one night of heavy frost to kill off all your wheat. Don’t expect to see that in a plot covering 10 years.

  29. You need daily minimum temps, and timing as to months (was the smmer short and late) etc. Again, Will does a very simplistic analysis while trying to refute a more robust analysis. Pretty poor science, and shallow thinking. You would never have gotten a degree from my lab…

  30. I tend to go with the reports from Vermont at the time where frost continued into June and it snowed in July. Not everyday was colder than normal, and the whole average wasn’t necessarily colder than normal, but there were some very cold days indeed.

  31. Thank-you Willis for the very interesting piece. The data unequivocally supports your conclusion.

    The observation that the largest volcanic eruption in modern history had a very minor and short lived effect on planetary temperature supports Lindzen and Choi’s data and analysis that the planet resists forcing changes rather than amplifies it.

    As most are aware the IPCC’s general circulation models assume there is positive feedback which amplifies the CO2 forcing. If planetary clouds in the tropics increase which reflects more sunlight off into space thereby resisting warming (negative feedback) the planetary warming due a doubling of atmospheric CO2 will be less than 1C with most of the warming occuring at hight latitudes which will cause the biosphere to expanded and will result increased crop yields in Canada and Russia due to an increase in frost free days.

    http://www-eaps.mit.edu/faculty/lindzen/236-Lindzen-Choi-2011.pdf

    On the Observational Determination of Climate Sensitivity and Its Implications
    Richard S. Lindzen1 and Yong-Sang Choi2

    We argue that feedbacks are largely concentrated in the tropics, and the tropical feedbacks can be adjusted to account for their impact on the globe as a whole. Indeed, we show that including all CERES data (not just from the tropics) leads to results similar to what are obtained for the tropics alone – though with more noise. We again find that the outgoing radiation resulting from SST fluctuations exceeds the zerofeedback response thus implying negative feedback. In contrast to this, the calculated TOA outgoing radiation fluxes from 11 atmospheric models forced by the observed SST are less than the zerofeedback response, consistent with the positive feedbacks that characterize these models. The results imply that the models are exaggerating climate sensitivity.

  32. Sorry, my arithmetic is faulty 16+34/2 is 25c. It should be something like 12 +28/2 that would be the air conditioned summer with average 20C, but the point remains the same

  33. izen says:
    “The place to look for the effect of volcanic eruptions on the climate is in food commodity prices. That is where climate change has its greatest impact on human society. In those records the Tambora eruption is unmissable.”

    Please provide a reference. England doesn’t seem to have noticed in their food prices:

    Year……Wheat……Rye……Barley…..Oats……Peas……Beans…..Potato……Hops…….Straw
    1810……13.05…….7.43……5.83…….3.47……6.89…….6.75……..3.15……..124.85…..57.67
    1811…….11.73…….5.66……5.12…….3.34……5.81……..5.83……..3.01……..173.13…..70.75
    1812…….14.38……9.18…….8.09……5.39……8.31……..8.49……..4.24……..150.15…..56.42
    1813…….13.46……9.59…….7.09……4.67……9.91……..9.74……..5.2……….262.79…..40.83
    1814……..9.68…….5.97…….4.53……3.11……6.54……..5.75……..3.3……….198.55……42.33
    1815……..8.14…….5.08…….3.67……2.86……4.97……..4.57……..3.3……….186.35……35.75
    1816……..8.89…….5.09…….4.11…….3.29…..4.44……..3.95……..3.48……..220.02…..44.04
    1817…….12.16…….6.95…….5.98……3.93……6.33……..5.77……..3.97……..340.82……39.12
    1818…….10.82……6.84…….6.53…….3.93…..5.91……..7.24……..4.04……..305.13……50.5
    1819……..8.84…….6.98…….5.55…….3.42…..6.68……..7.42……..4.18……….91.43……58.17
    1820…….8.26……..5.2………4.1……..2.93……5.11……..5.41……..3.57………..78.62…….31

    Source: http://www.econ.ucdavis.edu/faculty/gclark/papers/Agprice.pdf

  34. It seems to me that there are 2 issues being discussed here. 1. Was the period 1816-1817 abnormally cold, especially in North America? (meaning freezing people, killed crops etc.) 2. If there was an abnormality was it caused by vulcanism? Searching “1816 year without summer:” find many links which do support the below normal temperature historical record. So I for one, even though a sceptic, accept that. The above graphs do not seem to agree, hence the vulcanism issue is not relevant. Question: do we have any reason to believe in the accuracy of the temperature records? I read that even the temperature histories from the mid 19th century are suspect, some were read from thermometers which were inside of buildings.

  35. “So the question is, which year is “The Year Without A Summer”? The year indicated by the blue arrow, or the year shown by the green arrow?”
    ———————————————————————–
    Willis
    You might want to scrub the dates from figure 1.
    Not much of a quiz, otherwise.

  36. I repeat what I said about Dronning Maud etc. on Friday:

    “If this proves anything it is that volcanic eruptions just don’t measure up to their reputation. I have come to the conclusion that volcanic cooling that is supposed to follow an eruption and have an influence on climate simply does not exist. Part of it is due to ignorance of the fact that all climate graphs at all times are full of El Nino peaks and La Nina valleys in between. Those are the spikes they try to eliminate by their running averages. It so happens that when a volcano erupts when an El Nino has just peaked and a La Nina valley is beginning to form that La Nina valley is recruited as an example of volcanic cooling happening. Two examples of this are Mount Pinatubo and Gunung Agung. On the other hand, when the eruption takes place when the La Nina has bottomed out and the next El Nino is just beginning the expected cooling is simply absent and nobody has any idea where it went. El Chichon in Mexico is an example of that. Whether a cooling can be observed after any particular eruption thus depends upon the timing of the eruption with respect to the location of neighboring El Nino and LacNina phases of ENSO. This of course is contrary to claims that volcanic cooling can ovecome El Nino warming as so-called “experts” have been telling us. For more info read pages 17-21 in What Warming?”

    On the scale you show here the ENSO oscillation cannot be seen but I see a distinct jiggle that may contain El Nino peaks if expanded. It is worth it to print it out in full and try to check out Tambora’s timing with reference to the ENSO oscillation. Bimonthly resolution that HadCRUT3 uses ought to show it.

  37. [izen says:
    April 15, 2012 at 7:59 am
    What this demonstrates is just how fragile our agricultural system has been to quite small climate changes.]

    No.

    What this illustrates is the huge affect an insignificant cooling has on Mankind. One degree warmer hasn’t fazed us a bit.
    Think about that.

  38. The real question is not how did volcanic eruptions affect one summer, the question is how did they affect the Little Ice Age and the cold temps during the Maunder and Dalton minima. If you can overcome the argument that the cooling during those periods were not volcanic induced then you are talking and may have something. That is very difficult to do though.

  39. Uncorrected temperatures (without annual cycle removed) are usually very deceiving, as most of values lie on rather steep slope hiding most of differences. You basically see four out of twelve months in a year. Next time you feel like playing this little game I’d appreciate if you removed the annual cycle.
    Now I’m not saying it’s all hidden in there. I did not analyse the data this way and am not going to. My bet is rather on other, non-temperature related phenomena. It’s known fact that volcano eruptions cause bright red sunsets which may be perceived negatively by many people. There’s also slight atmospheric shading effect caused by large volcano eruptions – people don’t really see that the brightness has changed and temperature doesn’t really change as well, yet they have feeling of impeding doom and feel colder.

  40. Hutch says:
    April 15, 2012 at 8:58 am
    “…(London) Monthly Magazine for the latter half of 1816 …..selected bits of the weather and agricultural reports for July (MM, No. 288, p. 73):”……….The variable spring seasons, and late successive rains have been this year common to both Europe and America, and the corn crops are probable in consequence, to be universally affected. Much of the wheat in Poland has been destroyed, and great part of Germany and Belgium devastated by floods and storms…”

    And we want to knock the temperature down 2C+. Is this the “new world order” utopia?

  41. This is actually funny, from Mr. Bradley’s link:

    “Of the cold summers in the period 1811 to 1817, the year 1816 has gone down in the annals of New England history as “The Year There Was No Summer,” the “Poverty Year” and “Eighteen Hundred and Froze to Death.” The year began with a moderate but dry winter. Spring was tardy and continued very dry. The growing season from late spring to early fall, however, was punctuated by a series of devastating cold waves that did major damage to the crops and greatly reduced the food supply. In areas of central and northern New England, the summer had only two extended periods without frost or near freezing temperatures. A widespread snow fell in June. As a result, corn did not ripen and hay, fruits, and vegetables were greatly reduced in quantity and quality.”

    So the year without a summer may have had near normal averages, it was the unexpected cold waves that killed crops that got it the name. Maybe Will should do some research on the null hypothesis before he posts, as this post is irrelevant to the question if the link is correct.

  42. Thomas Jefferson made weather observations during that period in Virginia. Among his findings:

    “…the spring has been unusually dry and cold. Our average morning cold for the month of May in other years has been 63º of Fahrenheit. In the present month it has been to this day an average of 53º, and one morning as low as 43º. Repeated frosts have killed the early fruits and the crops of tobacco of what will be poor. (Jefferson to David Baillie Warden, 17 May 1816, in Betts, Garden Book, 557.)

    And later in the fall:

    We have had the most extraordinary year of drought and cold ever known in the history of America. In June, instead of 3¾ inches, our average of rain for that month, we only had ⅓ of an inch; in August, instead of nine and one-sixth inches our average, we had only eight tenths of an inch; and it still continues. The summer, too, has been as cold as a moderate winter. In every State north of this there has been frost in every month of the year; in this state we had none in June and July, but those of August killed much corn over the mountains. The crop of corn through the Atlantic States will probably be less than one-third of an ordinary one, that of tobacco still less, and of mean quality
    (Jefferson to Albert Gallatin, 8 September 1816, in Ford, 10:62-5)

    I believe Jefferson’s book of weather observations are available someplace.

    http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/collections/jefferson_papers/mtjser7.html#vol2

  43. Willis,
    In Israel, winter of 91-92 is remembered by us weather freaks as THE winter of all times. That winter broke every record – precipitation, snow, temperature, floods, you name it.
    It most obviousely was connected to the Pinatubo eruption in June 1991.
    I recall a very mild summer afterwards, and also another very wet winter of 92-93.

  44. Should you not look at the summer of 1815 together with that of 1816. From the experience of the the most recent Icelandic ash cloud which closed down many of Europe’s airports it would not have taken more than 12 months for the effects of Tambura to be felt. Bologna, Manchester, Praha and Hohenpeissenberg seem to fit a picture where there are two successvie years of (marginally) lower temperature), particularly if you swap your blue and green arrows for Praha.
    And to take up Baa Humbug’s point – despite having been taken to task by Steve Mosher for having said so in the past – (Tmax + Tmin)/2 does not equate to Tmean when the latter is recorded over the whole 24 hours, except by coincidence.

  45. John West said:
    [England crop prices]
    1816……..8.89…….5.09…….4.11…….3.29…..4.44……..3.95……..3.48……..220.02…..44.04
    1817…….12.16…….6.95…….5.98……3.93……6.33……..5.77……..3.97……..340.82……39.12

    You say these prices don’t show crop scarcity. Most of the columns certainly do. From 4.11 to 5.89 is almost a 50% in one year. If beer prices went up like that I’m sure you’d find it significant !!

  46. Dennis Nikols, P. Geo says:
    April 15, 2012 at 8:25 am
    “Yes when I was a boy not only was it coooold but we had way more snow. Thinking about it, my butt was way closer to the ground too.”
    ———————
    Yes that’s true but, as I recall we used to look for the deepest snow we could find at the bottom of the steepest hill we could find. Plus, we used to have to shovel all that snow. That was a good time to grow up.

  47. Thanks Willis
    Always interesting to see your explorations into the evidence.

    In his life long research, WJR Alexander found the ~22 year Hale cycle driving major changes in the precipitation/flow records in Southern Africa. “Linkages between solar activity, climate predictability and water resource development” W J R Alexander et al. J. South African Institution of Civil Engineering” • Vol. 49 No. 2 June 2007 pp 32-44
    See CROSSROADS by Will Alexander Monday 18 July 2011

    By following the evidence-based science route and the solar linkage, I was able to produce a successful long-range prediction of global droughts that is far beyond the ability of climate
    change believers.
    This morning there was an article in the South African press stating that a quarter of South Africa’s population (12 million people) have no food security. Do our climate change believers and environmentalists not have a conscience? Do they not realise that the climate change party is over?

    (Alexander is making available his complete compilation of all > 100 year data & papers on CD.)

    It would be interesting to see if the Hale cycle showed a similar strong correlation with precipitation in the northern hemisphere that impacted memorable agriculture.
    (Somewhere I have seen some papers showing the temperate region temperature response is out of phase (opposite?) with the tropical response, so need to distinguish between those regions. e.g. the response of the Nile river being different from the temperate rivers in Southern Africa.)

    That raises the question if those major volcanic eruptions happened to coincide with the Hale cycle.

    A global change in temperature should show up as changes in the Length Of Day (LOD), and more particularly varying as the derivative of the LOD. i.e., change in temperature changes the tropic-polar temperature difference which changes the winds which changes the LOD. e.g. See Adriano Mazzarella, Sun-Climate Linkage Now Confirmed. Energy & Environment · Vol. 20, No. 1&2, 2009 p 121-128.

    PS Scafetta’s cyclic temperature model shows more of a peak temperature near the 1883 Krakato erruption. 1816 to 1883 is 67 years which is just about 3 Hale cycles. Thus the Tambura eruption may have also coincided with a natural temperature peak, or more importantly with a change in precipitation.

    Ray Tomes explores evidence for the Hale cycle in English temperature records.

  48. izen says:
    April 15, 2012 at 7:59 am
    What this demonstrates is just how fragile our agricultural system has been to quite small climate changes.

    I’m not sure I follow. Implicit in this is that our fragile agricultural system is under threat?

  49. As a farmer i feel obliged to add my two cents. Last summer in Prince George was so wet that it almost caused a hay shortage. The crops grew but could not be harvested and many fields had standing water virtually all summer. Now, if you check the precipitation records you will find that we received an average rainfall. In the end it was the distribution of rain (almost daily) and the general lack of sun that was to blame. The moral? The crop failures attributed to the volcano could have some merit, even if temperatures were not as low as suggested (last summer the overnight temps were higher than average as opposed to daytime temps). Certainly here in PG last year was virtually without a summer. Just ask my fishing boat.

  50. The effect of Tambora on New England appears to have been to cause periods of short-lived, but (dare we say) unprecedented, cold weather throughout the summer of 1816, which proved
    devastating to local agriculture.

    Because they were short-lived, the cold snaps did not have a large impact on overall average temperatures, which only goes to prove what a useless statistic average temperature can be. The devil is nearly always in the detail.

  51. I see that Willis misunderstood the phrase since it is obvious that Summer was there that year.It was really referring to unusual unseasonable frosts and sometimes snow that does not normally occur.

    But what is being left out is the evidence of absurdly cold spells that rolled in from the North in Canada to hammer some of the Northern States with record cold and snow that normally does not happen at all.

    Parts of Northern Europe got it too.

    Dr. Stommel researched this concluding that yes there was a minor and regional impact by the massive eruption that caused the perioding freezing that does not occur at all today.

    http://wermenh.com/1816.html

    His Book:

    Then this link shows examples of unusual deep freezing in north America:

    Year Without a Summer

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Year_Without_a_Summer

    Then this one from NASA JPL who also thinks there was a volcanic influence for the unusual weather in 1816:

    http://climate.nasa.gov/blogs/index.cfm?FuseAction=ShowBlog&NewsID=183

  52. P. Solar says:
    “You say these prices don’t show crop scarcity. Most of the columns certainly do. From 4.11 to 5.89 is almost a 50% in one year. If beer prices went up like that I’m sure you’d find it significant !!”

    Well, if you cherry pick years and crops, certainly, you can make it look like there was a significant increase. If you look just a couple years before the example you (cherry)picked the price was 4.53 (1814), so the price went down and then partially back up. That’s why I posted (not too well, no WYSIWYG) the entire decade. Contrary to “izen’s” unsupported assertion and your cherry picked based conclusion, there doesn’t seem to be an un-missable spike in food prices, at least not in England. Look’s to me like Willis has hit the nail quite squarely on the head, once again.

    OTPS: I think I just dated myself with “WYSIWYG”.

  53. “England doesn’t seem to have noticed in their food prices:”

    Gotta agree with P. Solar — most of the prices given are up 30-50% in 1817. The only decrease is in straw, which could mean more grain was planted but the grain yield was very much lower, or that livestock hadn’t bred very well over the last year so there wasn’t as much demand.

  54. Oops!Mentally insert [ and 7.09 (1813)] after (1814) for above post to make sense. LOL. I had a PEBKAC error.

  55. “First a correction. You say “The Tambora eruption, in April of 1815, was so huge it could be heard from 2,600 km away (1,600 miles). That was the Krakatoa eruption in 1883.”

    Ric,
    There were a number of Spanish ships near the Islands where Mt Tambora was located. There were also natives in nearby shores. No corrections are needed.

  56. Rob Crawford says:
    “Gotta agree with P. Solar — most of the prices given are up 30-50% in 1817.”

    So, the year after the year after the eruption is the one that would be affected?

    I have to disagree, taking the whole decade into account, there’s really nothing remarkable in food prices for 1816 (the year without a summer) or 1817 (the year after the year without a summer).

  57. Willis, have you adjusted any of these temperatures yet? If not, there’s your problem. We know that a large volcanic eruption will disrupt the weather. If the empirical data you’ve found doesn’t support what we know, you just need to make some adjustments to the data.

    If you would have taken the time to be formally trained in climate science I wouldn’t have to tell you this, now would I?

  58. John West says:
    April 15, 2012 at 10:07 am
    “OTPS: I think I just dated myself with “WYSIWYG”.”

    The kids these days with their web GUIs don’t even know that there used to be a thing called WYSIWYG. There are, though, certain desperate attempts at re-gaining it and one day humanity might achieve it again, probably after deciphering the texts of the ancients in the rubble of PARC.

  59. “Rick Werme’s report (above) suggests that the poor harvests in New England were mainly a product of low temperatures. Was there a similar effect in the northern hemisphere post-Krakatoa?”

    I don’t think summer time temps were affected as much as winter temps -especially in North America. The infamous Children’s Blizzard and the well documented New York City blizzard occured the following year.

  60. Sandy says:
    April 15, 2012 at 7:46 am

    What do the tree-rings say?

    Mike Mann has a new paper out, explaining why it is that tree rings don’t respond to volcanoes … go figure.

    w.

  61. George says:
    April 15, 2012 at 10:25 am

    A failed crop killed by frost can still be used for straw.
    _______________________________________
    Yes and the change in price of wheat/rye/oats (straw) vs the change in price of straw can indicate if the price increase in one and the decrease in the other is due to how much was planted or how much was harvested.

    Timing is everything in farming.

  62. izen says: April 15, 2012 at 7:59 am
    The place to look for the effect of volcanic eruptions on the climate is in food commodity prices.
    John West says: April 15, 2012 at 9:15 am
    Please provide a reference. England doesn’t seem to have noticed in their food prices

    This is what Excel makes from data in the John West’s table

    http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/ECP1810-20.htm

  63. Ric Werme says:
    April 15, 2012 at 8:04 am

    I’m going to reply before I read the full post. I don’t think I’ll be too far afield, if so I’ll do a followup.

    I’ve written a web page titled 1816: The Year without a Summer A New Hampshire Perspective. I think New England is where the phrase came from, we ceratinly can take credit for “Eighteen Hundred and Froze to Death.”

    First a correction. You say “The Tambora eruption, in April of 1815, was so huge it could be heard from 2,600 km away (1,600 miles). That was the Krakatoa eruption in 1883. There were a lot more Europeans in Indonesia then and the telegraph communications helped get the news about Krakatoa’s explosion to Europe much more quickly than the Tambora eruption. (I wouldn’t be surprised if Krakatoa were louder too. I doubt loudness correlates all that well with material and SO2 released.)

    Actually, that fact was from the Science Magazine study entitled “The Great Tambora Eruption in 1815 and Its Aftermath” that I referred to in the head post (emphasis mine) …

    To appreciate the magnitude of Tambora’s
    spectacular eruption in 1815, an
    inventory of the range of its primary
    phenomena is now drawn up in brief
    form: a sound range of 2600 km; an ash
    range of at least 1300 km; pitch darkness
    (up to 2 days) over a distance of 600 km;
    pyroclastic flows at least as far as 20 km
    from the mountain’s summit; and a tsunami
    (of 1 to 4 m, shore height) over a
    range of at least 1200 km.

    So if you’re putting yourself forwards as an expert on the subject of Tambora, you’ve made a very bad start.

    w.

  64. Ric Werme says:
    April 15, 2012 at 8:04 am

    … Second, the summer of 1816 wasn’t cold all the time. It was very cold some of the time. I concluded that the major effect was that the norther jet stream didn’t migrate as far north that summer as usual.

    Ric, I made a special effort to dig up DAILY temperature records because I knew folks would want to make this claim … you’ll have to point out in the daily records just where these temperature stations show that the summer was “very cold some of the time”. I don’t see it.

    w.

  65. Ric Werme says:
    April 15, 2012 at 8:04 am

    … For example, I note:

    Several cold spells in May 1816 delayed the start of the planting season. June began well, but crops were lost in a cold spell between the 5th and 11th. Snow accumulated throughout all but southernmost New Hampshire. A warm spell starting the last third of June provided hope that summer had arrived, but a killing frost on July 9th dashed that hope. The rest of the month was warmer, but didn’t equal the warmest days of June. A warming trend in August abruptly ended with frost on the 21st and a worse one on the 30th.

    Cite? I mean I know where the quote came from, your web page … but on that page there is no indication of where you got that information. Not saying it’s wrong, but it sounds like it’s cobbled together from various descriptions of various locations …

    w.

  66. This is in complete contradiction to the written record of total crop failures in much of New England due to frost and snow in the months of June and July 1816. On average, it likely didn’t show very much cooling on a year-to-year basis. There were periods of normal summer warmth, interrupted by snow and freezing temps.

  67. Nylo says:
    April 15, 2012 at 8:42 am

    Willis, it is true that 1816 was just a case of “one more cold summer”, and not a really, really cold summer anywhere, but the big difference is that this cold summer happened in all places, while normally, if somewhere in the world is particularly cold, it is because it is hotter in other parts.

    Nylo, the graphs above show that there were a number of places that didn’t suffer the terrible summer, the “year without a summer”. So if you want to claim that “this cold summer happened in all places”, you’ll first have to explain why it didn’t happen in Stockholm, Milan, Bologna, Manchester, New Haven, and the other places for which I’ve shown records.

    Then you’ll have to show some records of where it actually did happen. I suspect there are some out there, I just haven’t found them.

    I await your return with the relevant information and citations.

    w.

  68. John West says:

    There must have been a huge eruption in 1810, since the 1812 food prices are so high. /sarc

    There was and it was called war.
    The War of 1812 was between the British and the Americans.
    The Peninsular War was between the British (allied with Spain and Portugal) and France.
    Fighting on multiple fronts probably impacted the price of food in the UK.

  69. Let me throw in another measure of how severe the growing conditions were in
    Europe in the summer of 1816. Hereʼs the relevant data on the average date of
    harvest of Pinot Noir grapes in Burgundy in the first quarter of the 19th century.
    1800 Sept 25
    1801 Oct 1
    1802 Sept 20
    1803 Sept 23
    1804 Oct 1
    1805 Oct 17
    1806 Sept 25
    1807 Sept 24
    1808 Sept 29
    1809 Oct 14
    1810 Oct 2
    1811 Sept 12
    1812 Oct 6
    1813 Oct 8
    1814 Oct 5
    1815 Sept 26
    1816 Oct 25
    1817 Oct 16
    1818 Sept 21
    1819 Sept 26
    1820 Oct 8
    1821 Oct 15
    1822 Sept 1
    1823 Oct 12
    1824 Oct 12
    1825 Sept 22
    The average harvest date from 1800-1825 (exc. 1816) was Oct. 1; in 1816
    the grapes werenʼt harvested until Oct 25th. The only later harvest (from
    AD1370 on) was in 1436 (Oct. 26th).
    So, even though temperatures may not have been significantly lower in the
    growing season of 1816 in northern Europe, the wet conditions clearly
    impacted harvests.

    Source: Chuine, I., et al. 2004. Grape ripening as a past climate indicator. Nature,
    Vol. 432, 289-290.

    PS: I’ve graphed the harvest data on Excel, but can’t figure out how to transfer the data to WUWT. Advice appreciated.

  70. “Cold? You haven’t seen real cold. Why, when I was a young man it was so cold that …” Reminds me of this:

    A very neat and clear analysis of the reality behind the year without a summer supposedly due to Tambora. I like your conclusion that :

    “The thermostatic mechanisms of the planet kept Tambora from having a much of a cooling effect.”

    This paper is the Central England temperatures: monthly means 1659 to 1973 by Gordon Manley (1974):

    http://www.rmets.org/pdf/qj74manley.pdf

    This is a paper on temperatures in England 1772-1991 by Parker et al. (1992):

    http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/hadobs/hadcet/Parker_etalIJOC1992_dailyCET.pdf

  71. Subjectively, I would imagine food prices would serve as a rather poor proxy. How many factors can you think of other than temperature that might affect these prices? There are many. Perhaps some of the farmers here can suggest a few. I have very little faith in any temperature record earlier than about the late 19th century. I question the instruments used and the methods employed.

    The UAH satellite data clearly shows a cooling following the Mt. Pinatubo eruption so in my mind that establishes the link.

  72. TomT says:
    April 15, 2012 at 9:07 am

    I tend to go with the reports from Vermont at the time where frost continued into June and it snowed in July. Not everyday was colder than normal, and the whole average wasn’t necessarily colder than normal, but there were some very cold days indeed.

    Cite?

    w.

  73. John West says:
    April 15, 2012 at 10:31 am
    There must have been a huge eruption in 1810, since the 1812 food prices are so high. /sarc

    I don’t know what you are talking about, 1810 to 1813 appears to be the highest multi-year period of wheat prices in the record for decades to a century either side. The highest price was in 1812. Wheat in England is sensitive to temps/sunshine and precip. Unlike some other crops like peas and potatos which are relatively early crops in England.

  74. Scott says:
    April 15, 2012 at 9:05 am

    You need daily minimum temps, and timing as to months (was the smmer short and late) etc. Again, Will does a very simplistic analysis while trying to refute a more robust analysis. Pretty poor science, and shallow thinking. You would never have gotten a degree from my lab…

    Labs give degrees? Who knew? You might actually seem like you knew something if you took the trouble to spell my name right … you would never have gotten a degree from my lab.

    w.

  75. On the monthly UAH world temperature anomaly report, the 33-year satellite record shows its lowest dip at what is labeled the Mt. Pinatubo cooling in 1993. I’ve always wondered how much the monthly anomalies would have been affected had we not had the Pinatubo eruption.

  76. Willis says:

    “Cite?”

    Really? It is well documented. http://wermenh.com/1816.html

    Snow June 5th-11th, and if that didn’t do it, the hard frost on July 9th did. That summer sent a whole lot of people packing for the south and mid-west. A couple of very cold spells probably didn’t make much of a difference on a year long scale, but the crop failures sure did, especially when that’s ALL many did at the time. Sure, it’s likely hyperbole to call it a “year without summer”, but with total crop failures in many areas due to snow and frost in June-July, it might as well have been winter all year long as far as they were concerned….

  77. I assume that during the Napoleon’s European experiment there was stockpiling of commodities by British government, increasing price to a large degree. Once Napoleon was defeated in Russia, there was huge surplus available throughout 1815 & 16, but if there was poor harvest in 1816 than prices would shoot up in 1817 again, but possibly not as high because of previous stockpiling.

    http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/ECP1810-20.htm

  78. Willis:

    Your work here reveals an alarming absence of sophistication. You should know by now that crude temperature measuring instruments do not reveal actual temperatures to the precision required for “teasing out” the forcing signals of CO2, aerosols, sulphites, etc. To accomplish that end one must apply “sophisticated statistical techniques” which correct those crude readings.

    Selecting the sophisticated statistical techniques to be applied is a relatively straightforward exercise, unless you are totally ignorant of the history of AGW. First, you must know what actual tenmperatures were. In this case, you know the “big boom” had just occurred, so you know temperatures the following summer had to have been very low. Then, you randomly apply various sophisticated statistical techniques to that original, crude data until “the signal” you are looking for emerges.

    The temperature record is a noisy environment, Willis. You can’t expect to just haul off, read raw data and have it to reveal truth. That data must be ADJUSTED!

  79. “The unusual cold in eastern N America might have been a consequence or it might just have been coincidental.”

    The weather described for New Hampshire in 1816 sounds like the weather in Kapuskasing, Ontario, about 1000 km north of Toronto. Could it have been a stalling high pushing that south?

  80. So the question is, which year is “The Year Without A Summer”? The year indicated by the blue arrow, or the year shown by the green arrow?

    Just to reaffirm what some other commenters have noted (even if, heck, especially if they used my web page as the source), your arrows are pointing to the maximum temperature of the summer. From New England’s experience, you should be pointing at the daily low temperatures to highlight the length of the growing season.

    If that’s what a really big volcano can do, I’m not impressed. Well, I am impressed, but what’s impressive is the strength of the thermostatic mechanisms that keep the earth’s temperature within a very narrow band. Even a huge volcano can’t put it out of sorts for much more than one summer, and even then not too much.

    I’m uncomfortable with this assumption, expressed here and elsewhere, that the size of an eruption affects the time it affects the climate. “Big” as in explosive eruptions, throw dust into the stratosphere. Dust is dust, and it settles out pretty quickly. The bigger concern is the SO2 that reaches the stratosphere and form a H2SO4 aerosol. These particles are a lot smaller and take more time to settle out.

    However, I posit that the time for an individual droplet to settle out is not dependent on the density of droplets, just the starting height. So the only thing a “big” eruption has to offer is how high into the stratosphere it sends the aerosl. And that, as far as I know, is not tracked for any eruption until the 20th century, and probably not even until we started sending balloons and airplanes that high in the middle of the century.

    It may be that the cooling due to the aerosol affects the ocean’s temperature, and that would have something looking like an exponential effect, but I suspect that would be really hard to measure, even in the satellite era.

  81. Willis — There is good evidence for a biological negative feedback mechanism from marine phytoplankton. That may be an important part of the ‘thermostat’ that you find in the record.

    http://www.co2science.org/subject/d/summaries/dms.php

    From the summary —
    “Dimethylsulfide or DMS is an organosulfur compound with the formula (CH3)2S. It is the most abundant biologically-produced sulfur compound to be found in the atmosphere, being emitted to the air primarily by marine phytoplankton. Perhaps its greatest claim to fame is that several years ago Charlson et al. (1987) discussed the plausibility of a multi-stage negative feedback process, whereby warming-induced increases in the emission of DMS from the world’s oceans tend to counteract the effects of the initial impetus for warming. The basic tenant of their hypothesis was that the global radiation balance is significantly influenced by the albedo of marine stratus clouds (the greater the cloud albedo, the less the input of solar radiation to the earth’s surface). The albedo of these clouds, in turn, is known to be a function of cloud droplet concentration (the more and smaller the cloud droplets, the greater the cloud albedo and the reflection of solar radiation), which is dependent upon the availability of cloud condensation nuclei on which the droplets form (the more cloud condensation nuclei, the more and smaller the cloud droplets). And in completing the negative feedback loop, Charlson et al. noted that the cloud condensation nuclei concentration often depends upon the flux of biologically-produced DMS from the world’s oceans (the higher the sea surface temperature, the greater the sea-to-air flux of DMS).

    Since the publication of Charlson et al.’s initial hypothesis, much empirical evidence has been gathered in support of its several tenants. The review of Ayers and Gillett (2000), for example, concluded that “major links in the feedback chain proposed by Charlson et al. (1987) have a sound physical basis,” and that there is “compelling observational evidence to suggest that DMS and its atmospheric products participate significantly in processes of climate regulation and reactive atmospheric chemistry in the remote marine boundary layer of the Southern Hemisphere.”

    But just how strong is the negative feedback phenomenon proposed by Charlson et al.? Is it powerful enough to counter the threat of greenhouse gas-induced global warming? According to the findings of Sciare et al. (2000), it may well be able to do just that, for in examining ten years of DMS data from Amsterdam Island in the southern Indian Ocean, these researchers found that a sea surface temperature increase of only 1°C was sufficient to increase the atmospheric DMS concentration by as much as 50%. This finding suggests that the degree of warming typically predicted to accompany a doubling of the air’s CO2 content would increase the atmosphere’s DMS concentration by a factor of three or more, providing what they call a “very important” negative feedback that could potentially offset the original impetus for warming.”

  82. Great work Willis.

    I’m emailing you, and copying Douglas Hoyt on this message.

    Stop me when I “go outside the lines” but I think there is something very useful here. This point has probably been made previously, BUT:

    I’ve been harping (since at least 2006) about the FABRICATED aerosol data that is used to fudge the climate computer models, particularly to force them to model (hindcast) the global cooling that occurred from ~1940-1975. I draw your attention to a 2006 statement by Doug Hoyt, the only expert I know on the subject of ACTUAL pre-1970 aerosol measurements:

    Doug said in 2006 “In none of these studies were any long-term trends found in aerosols, although volcanic events show up quite clearly.”

    SINCE
    In none of these actual aerosol measurement studies, which go back to the 1880’s, were any long term trends (manmade or natural) found in aerosols, although volcanic events show up quite clearly
    AND
    You have apparently demonstrated that even major volcanos like Tambora (1816) have minimal impacts on Earth temperature, compared to natural variation
    THEREFORE
    Claims by CAGW climate modelers of SIGNIFICANT impacts of humanmade aerosols causing sufficient global cooling to offset their claims of dangerous CO2-driven global warming must be FALSE
    AND
    Claims by CAGW climate modelers that Climate Sensitivity to CO2* is approximately 3.5C must be greatly exaggerated.

    Question for Douglas – do you have any aerosol data for Krakatoa (1883); other more recent (pre~1970) major volcanos?

    Willis and Doug – please comment if you have the time.

    Thanks and best regards, Allan

  83. Willis

    The year you refer to was merely one of a number of increasingly cold years during a decade that turned out to be one of the coldest since the depths of the LIA 130 years previously. Decadal CET average 1810-1819 at 8.798C was the coldest decade since 1690-1699 .This decline happened BEFORE Tambora erupted;

    The evolving climate can be seen here;

    http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/hadobs/hadcet/

    I compiled a complete chronology of weather from 1812 onwards to support an article I wrote about Charles Dickens who was greatly influenced by his cold childhood and 1816 fitted into the cold series of years he experienced.

    http://noconsensus.wordpress.com/2010/01/06/bah-humbug/

    tonyb

  84. Willis Eschenbach says:
    April 15, 2012 at 10:46 am

    Ric Werme says:
    April 15, 2012 at 8:04 am

    First a correction. You say ΄The Tambora eruption, in April of 1815, was so huge it could be heard from 2,600 km away (1,600 miles). That was the Krakatoa eruption in 1883. There were a lot more Europeans in Indonesia then and the telegraph communications helped get the news about Krakatoa’s explosion to Europe much more quickly than the Tambora eruption. (I wouldn’t be surprised if Krakatoa were louder too. I doubt loudness correlates all that well with material and SO2 released.)

    Actually, that fact was from the Science Magazine study entitled “The Great Tambora Eruption in 1815 and Its Aftermath”

    So if you’re putting yourself forwards as an expert on the subject of Tambora, you’ve made a very bad start.

    I’m not putting myself out as an expert about Tambora or Krakatoa. I’m not even putting myself out as an expert in 1816 weather in New Hampshire. At the time I merely wanted to collect some information that year in my adopted state and its granite monument to 1816.

    Poking around on the web, I see this about Krakatoa:

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/how-krakatoa-made-the-biggest-bang-476616.html

    The force of the eruption created the loudest noise ever recorded: it was heard 4,653km away on Rodriguez Island in the Indian Ocean and some 4,800km away in Alice Springs; shock waves travelled around the world seven times; and the force of the blast was some 10,000 times greater than that of the hydrogen bomb dropped on Hiroshima. The volcano left 36,000 people dead and the survivors battled to cope with tsunamis, further eruptions and superheated ash clouds.

    The rest of the world heard such stories almost instantly because a series of underwater telegraph cables had been recently laid traversing the globe. For the first time, operators were able to communicate stories to their counterparts across the globe using morse code. As Professor Nick Petford, from the School of Earth Sciences and Geology at Kingston University, London, and presenter of the BBC documentary explains, “This is the first time a volcano had exploded and was known about instantly. The underwater telegraph cables were a network for communication, the precursor to the internet.”

    Yeah, yeah, popular press and all that. You were right, I confess that 2,600 km sounded like it wasn’t very far, I should have checked. What I wanted to convery was that Krakatoa was louder despite being smaller. I hope I haven’t made a too very bad of a start at not being an expert.

  85. Dr Dave says: “The UAH satellite data clearly shows a cooling following the Mt. Pinatubo eruption so in my mind that establishes the link.”

    What reason do you have to suppose whatever data you are referring to would not have cooled if there had not been an eruption?

    Don’t know what you got you doctorate in Doc

  86. Willis: If you haven’t done so, you might want to look at the Wikipedia article on the Year Without a Summer and look at its map of temperature anomalies that came from the reconstruction made Luterbacher

    http://www.giub.unibe.ch/klimet/docs/luterbacheretal_science.pdf

    ftp://ftp.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/paleo/historical/europe-seasonal-files/

    Interestingly, nothing of this contradicts the information you have presented here. Cold in Europe in the summer of 1816 was centered on Paris, but wasn’t pronounced at the sites you reported in this post. If he was able to reconstruct lower temperature centered around Paris, Luterbacher presumably found records for more sites than you did, or than you chose to share with us. Were you cherry-picking? On the other hand, the map in Wikipedia doesn’t tell us what maps of other European summers looked like in the years decades around Tambora. The Wikipedia map reports temperature anomalies with respect to 1971-2000, so “normal” for this period (the end of the LIA and before increased CO2) would have been lower. It would be fun to see the same maps for a few other years besides 1816. Perhaps the -3 degC anomaly was common in that period.

    The real cherry-picking with old records like this happens when alarmists associate ANY unusual LOCAL WEATHER with Tambora, a phenomena that theoretically effected global climate for at least a year. Unusually cold weather can be found somewhere in the world every summer (and even greater extremes will occur every few summers), whether or not a volcano erupts that year. (The same cherry-picking occurs when alarmists associate any local weather with carbon dioxide.)

    According to reference 1 from Wikipedia, the “year without a summer” in New England consisted of unusual cold and snow in early June and an early frost in August, which combined with drought to decimate the corn crop. There was a summer – a summer with some very unusually cold weather (mostly in the late spring) – but the drop in average temperature wasn’t unusual. These cold events would have been unusual even if Tambora hadn’t globally lowered temperature by a modest amount.

  87. John West says:
    April 15, 2012 at 9:15 am

    izen says:

    “The place to look for the effect of volcanic eruptions on the climate is in food commodity prices. That is where climate change has its greatest impact on human society. In those records the Tambora eruption is unmissable.”

    Please provide a reference. England doesn’t seem to have noticed in their food prices:

    Source: http://www.econ.ucdavis.edu/faculty/gclark/papers/Agprice.pdf

    Outstanding find, John. Here’s their information in graphic form.

    Not only did England not notice in their food prices, they were at their lowest for the decade in 1816 …

    I’ve added this to the head post.

    w.

  88. Excellent post, Willis! You have identified a prime example of the attribution problem: our desire to explain one noticeable thing by reference another. It is also an ‘exception reporting’ problem similar to that of the witch-lady giving you the evil eye and your pigs getting sick (an actual problem in Bermuda circa 1635).

    Hmmm. Sounds like CAGW. But she got hung, we get taxes. Taxes are better.

  89. P. Solar says:
    April 15, 2012 at 9:39 am

    John West said:
    [England crop prices]
    1816……..8.89…….5.09…….4.11…….3.29…..4.44……..3.95……..3.48……..220.02…..44.04
    1817…….12.16…….6.95…….5.98……3.93……6.33……..5.77……..3.97……..340.82……39.12

    You say these prices don’t show crop scarcity. Most of the columns certainly do. From 4.11 to 5.89 is almost a 50% in one year. If beer prices went up like that I’m sure you’d find it significant !!

    Other variables NOT taken into account: The amount of grain in stores (literally: grains stored from the previous year) or grain available from other areas where crop failures (to the same degree, like maybe France) were not seen …

    If one knew more about ‘markets’ and how grains etc. were handled at that time (storage, movement etc) one could better infer how scarcity/crop failures would affect price.

    .

  90. Willis you have to put prices of commodities in the historical perspective at the time:

    During the Napoleon’s European experiment there was stockpiling of commodities by British government, increasing price to a large degree. Once Napoleon was defeated in Russia, there was huge surplus available throughout 1815 & 16, but if there was poor harvest in 1816 than prices would shoot up in 1817 again, but possibly not as high because of previous stockpiling.

    http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/ECP1810-20.htm

    Historic perspective : think of oil price during number of Israel-Arab conflicts. In Europe these things are in our DNA.

  91. Willis

    Further to my post at 11.54

    This is the ref I made in my article (referrring to Britain)

    “1816 was known as the year without a summer, snow fell very late and the summer never recovered. The winter proceeding it was severe. A volcanic eruption (Tambora: East Indies) disrupted wind patterns and temperatures greatly, affecting depressions, which tracked further south than usual, making the UK very cold and wet for the summer and beyond. In September the Thames had frozen and snow drifts remained on hills until late July.’

    We perhaps need better overall context and cite the works of Turner amongst other artists, who painted the aftermath of volcanic ‘dust veils’ as they were known from 1807 to the 1830’s. It was reckoned that some 15 cubic kilometres of solid matter were thrown into the atmosphere by the Tambora eruption but there had also been major eruptions in 1812 on St vincent and Awu in Celebes and in 1814 in the Philippines.

    Lamb wrote about these events on page 246/7 of ‘Climate History and the Modern World’ and cited high levels of dust veils between 1752 and the 1840’s. I have also seen the references to the weather of the era from contemporary accounts held in the Met Office archives. My surmise would be that volcanos did have periodic effects in some months in some places according to the wind patterns of the time.
    tonyb

  92. Scott says:
    April 15, 2012 at 9:31 am

    The real question is not how did volcanic eruptions affect one summer, the question is how did they affect the Little Ice Age and the cold temps during the Maunder and Dalton minima. If you can overcome the argument that the cooling during those periods were not volcanic induced then you are talking and may have something. That is very difficult to do though.

    I just wrote a whole post on that very question, “Dronning Maud Meets the Little Ice Age“. I find the argument that the LIA was volcanically induced to be very weak.

    w.

  93. I usually hate to direct anyone to Wikipedia, but if you type in ‘Year without a summer’ quite a lot of history is returned concerning this time and the effects of several cold years. 1816 was the year when certain food exports were prohibited because of shortages, and when farms were abandoned as the farmers became hunters or went to work in the woods. There is enough history of this time to show how hard it was in at least the northern hemisphere..

  94. Not a lesson in European history but a brief reminder
    Willis this is map of Europe at 1812

    If you were running British government what would you do about stockpiling grain?
    This is map of Europe just 3 years later in 1815

    If you were running British government what would you do about the stockpiled grain?
    Historical context is here HUGE factor.

    During the Napoleon’s European experiment there was stockpiling of commodities by British government, increasing price to a large degree. Once Napoleon was defeated in Russia, there was huge surplus available throughout 1815 & 16, but if there was poor harvest in 1816 than prices would shoot up in 1817 again, but possibly not as high because of previous stockpiling.

    http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/ECP1810-20.htm

  95. Kasuha says:
    April 15, 2012 at 9:31 am

    Uncorrected temperatures (without annual cycle removed) are usually very deceiving, as most of values lie on rather steep slope hiding most of differences. You basically see four out of twelve months in a year. Next time you feel like playing this little game I’d appreciate if you removed the annual cycle.

    Thanks, Kasuha. Neither humans, animals, nor plants relate or respond to average temperature. Averages are a mathematical construct with no reality. We relate and respond to actual temperatures. So I’ve used actual temperatures.

    Were temperatures cooler in 1816? Sure. Was it significant? Not most places, near as I can tell. See the English food price chart above for how the plants and animals responded.

    w.

  96. Scott says:
    April 15, 2012 at 9:34 am

    … Maybe Will should do some research on …

    Come back when you learn to spell my name, and your posts might get some traction. If you think frosts are the problem, see the English food prices above.

    w.

  97. Willis Eschenbach says:
    April 15, 2012 at 10:49 am

    Ric Werme says:
    April 15, 2012 at 8:04 am

    … Second, the summer of 1816 wasn’t cold all the time. It was very cold some of the time. I concluded that the major effect was that the norther jet stream didn’t migrate as far north that summer as usual.

    Ric, I made a special effort to dig up DAILY temperature records because I knew folks would want to make this claim … you’ll have to point out in the daily records just where these temperature stations show that the summer was “very cold some of the time”. I don’t see it.

    I don’t believe I was able to find a daily temperature record in New Hampshire. I recall (but can’t find at the moment) that Henry Stommel’s Scientific American article showed a page from Thomas Jefferson’s journal, but that’s from Virginia. Apparently he had more crop damage than I recalled.

    There may be some from Massachusetts, but I may be confusing that with weather observations from Cotton Mather from a long time before. I just checked my copy of “The New England Weather Book” by David Ludlum (a legend to New England weather freaks) and he didn’t cover 1816. (He must in other sources because Henry Stommel gives him credit, and, well, it’s inconceivable that Ludlum didn’t write about it. He does give July 9th, 1816 to “Waltham, Mass, frost in low places on July 8th and 9th; 44° at sunrise.” Hmm, July 8th, 1788: Canterbury Conn., hailstorm covered ground 34″ deep; flood followed.” We do have a “Sumptuous variety”!

    If you really want, I could stop at the NH Historical Society and check. Their records are not easy to work with, I got the population figures I used from them, I think I had to use some of the towns’ census data.

    One nice things about reports of snow, frost, breaking ice on water troughs, is that you don’t need to argue about the quality of the thermometer. There’s a lot to argue about still nights and radiational cooling, e.g., my father thought he saw some frost in a depression very early one July 3rd in central NH one year. Quite possible, we had a wonderful outbreak of dry Canadian air that we appreciated, though the beachgoers didn’t.

  98. Vuk

    Your post 12.32. You are right as regards historical context and about stockpiling which added to prices, but to that should be added profiteering (there were several crackdowns in the period) the impact of general economic depressions/booms and ones relating to the rural community, where the sudden withdrawal of men from farming due to the Napoleonic wars and their subsequent release afterwards caused major changes in levels of crop plantings, harvesting and storage, all of which directly impacted on prices in both directions.

    http://eprints.worc.ac.uk/365/6/CHAPTER_4.pdf

    tonyb

  99. WIllis says: “Nylo, the graphs above show that there were a number of places that didn’t suffer the terrible summer”

    I think you are missing the point Nylo was trying to make. When you point out other cold years, you seem to look through a few decade’s worth of data to find a good example of a cold summer. I get 1803, 1809, 1812, 1834, 1843, 1844 and 1844 for the alternate years. But when it was a cold summer in one spot in 1803, was it cold in ALL the other spots that year? We don;t know, because you purposely picked the alternate years to show that there were indeed other cold summers.

    But 1816 seems to be below average in ALL the spots you looked at. That is, in itself is significant. 7 sites being below average for random data is definitely statistically significant (1/128). Now, these numbers are certainly correlated (cold weather in one city is correlated with cold weather in nearby cities), so this would lower the statical significance.

  100. Willis, thanks again. Your followups to the comments, as usual, were worth reading. Your followup to the agricultural prices was good.

    Aside from the crop lead from Izen, the best of the comments was the following by Frank: The real cherry-picking with old records like this happens when alarmists associate ANY unusual LOCAL WEATHER with Tambora, a phenomena that theoretically effected global climate for at least a year. Unusually cold weather can be found somewhere in the world every summer (and even greater extremes will occur every few summers), whether or not a volcano erupts that year. (The same cherry-picking occurs when alarmists associate any local weather with carbon dioxide.)

  101. I want to reflect on Willis’s points from a couple of different points of view.

    First, the “Year without Summer” is legend, but that is not to say it is untrue. Let us assume it as a valid, historical, if qualitative observation of a temporary climate change. If that assumption is valid than Willis has shown that his compressed display of Tmax,Tmin is a very poor proxy to detect that climate change.

    Is the problem that Tmax,Tmin temperature records are poor measures of climate change? Heavens! That does attack the foundations of a multi-billion dollar research industry.

    Maybe Willis’s display of the temperature records is ill-suited to detect this climate change. In the image that I see, we have 11 years compressed into <440 pixels. So each pixel can represent no less than seven days. Might that compression be hiding something significant? Or over emphasizing outlier data?

    As some others here have pointed out, the Year Without Summer, for an agrarian community might be an indication of poor harvest, rather than an overall cooling. A cool wet spring that delayed planting or harmed the seedlings with a late frost could have made for a bad year. An early frost could have drastically cut the farm yield even if an Indian Summer followed. The Year without Summer might have amounted to no more than three cold stormy days in August that ended the growing season and rotted the crops in the field.

    First, plot the Year Day Number of every day where Tmin is < Tloss (as Y), Time on X. Where Tloss is -1 deg C, -2 deg C, -3 deg C, etc. Keep only the highest point each Tloss in each year. Line by Year, Color by Tloss. This will be a scatter chart, connected within a year only, but the peak will show the last days of the killing winter or spring frosts. Can we pick out the volcano years on this plot? Cold spring years would show up as peaks.

    Also, let’s Plot the temperature records as integrated Growth Degree Days. This is a little difficult because of the question of when is time zero? That seems to be a function of the Tloss in the previous paragraph. Also, there is the issue of Tbase for different crops. However, a first attempt could be to make a line chart with a new line for each (Tloss, and Tbase). The line for each year should end when Tmin < Tfreeze which ends the growth for the year. Poor yield years would show up as lows.

  102. Doug Proctor says:
    April 15, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    Excellent post, Willis! You have identified a prime example of the attribution problem: our desire to explain one noticeable thing by reference another….

    Perhaps he also demonstrates how incomplete knowledge of the ‘economy and markets’ as they apply to commodity pricing can hamper correct deductions and climate inferences too.

    .

  103. I have two anecdotal comments. I grew up in Indiana, which became a state by vote of Congress in 1816; the story was that the vote was close, and Indiana almost didn’t make it because of the weather reported from that summer: frost or snow in every month (at least in the northern half of the state), total failure of most grain crops, late frosts killing fruit crops (of which as yet there were few, as the state was still sparsely settled and orchards in most areas had had scant time to grow).

    Since moving to Tidewater VA (Norfolk) in 1981, I have sort of absorbed various historical lore from that area and from Richmond, near which we live now. The tale is told that, in one of the winters of the Civil War (1862, I think), Hampton Roads harbor froze over hard enough for railroad tracks to be laid across the ice from Norfolk to Portsmouth, and locomotives with cargo cars attached crossed by those tracks several times before a thaw set in. I don’t know if this actually happened, though it is a good story. Needless to say, we have seen nothing of the sort since 1981.

  104. Britain passed the Corn Laws in 1815, which banned import of wheat. They were specifically intended to raise the price of wheat. You can see in Willis’s graphic above that wheat prices rose after 1815. As for declining food prices I see price declines in more cold tolerant crops such as rye and oats. Indicating farmers switched to these crops after several years of cooler weather.

  105. Thanks Tony, I think I made my point, Willis can take it or ignore it, the facts won’t change one way or the other whatever they happen to be.

  106. Eyal Porat says:
    April 15, 2012 at 9:37 am

    Willis,
    In Israel, winter of 91-92 is remembered by us weather freaks as THE winter of all times. That winter broke every record – precipitation, snow, temperature, floods, you name it.
    It most obviousely was connected to the Pinatubo eruption in June 1991.
    I recall a very mild summer afterwards, and also another very wet winter of 92-93.

    Thanks, Eyal. In fact, the winters of 1889-90, 1904-05, 1910-11, and 1948-49 were all colder in Jerusalem than the winter of 91-92. Also, the surrounding fall, spring, and summer were all unremarkable. This makes it more likely that the winter of 1991-92 was, like the even colder winter of 1948-49, a natural event rather than one caused by Pinatubo.

    The problem is that when there is a volcano, everyone thinks the following weather is connected. It might be, but then again, it certainly might not be …

    w.

  107. P. Solar says:
    April 15, 2012 at 9:39 am

    John West said:
    [England crop prices]

    1816……..8.89…….5.09…….4.11…….3.29…..4.44……..3.95……..3.48……..220.02…..44.04
    1817…….12.16…….6.95…….5.98……3.93……6.33……..5.77……..3.97……..340.82……39.12

    You say these prices don’t show crop scarcity. Most of the columns certainly do. From 4.11 to 5.89 is almost a 50% in one year. If beer prices went up like that I’m sure you’d find it significant !!

    You’re not following the story. The prices should have been highest in 1816, due to the bad crops. They weren’t. And even in 1817, the prices were lower than in 1810.

    w.

  108. This past winter in the Midwest US was extremely mild, yet global temperatures were a bit below the average (satellite era.) The reason for the lack of cold this past winter in the Midwest was a jet stream that almost never took aim on the Central US. Now in April, we are seeing more upper-level troughs, resulting in heavy rains and severe weather.

    The point is that we don’t need a volcano, or any other disruption, to get occasional locks in the upper-level wind flow that will target a region with extreme weather for several months. It sounds to me that a persistent upper level trough was unusually locked into the Northeast US in the spring and summer of 1816, and the volcano had little, or perhaps nothing to do with it. If it did, wouldn’t the winters before and after the summer of 1816 be unusually cold as well, and wouldn’t the impact be global? We do not find any evidence of that in the records or the antidotes.

    I think the real impact of this series of articles by Willis is the way they support the strength of natural climate variability and indicate the weakness of the man-made global warming theory. AGW, and the models based on it, assume that CO2 is the primary driver of global atmospheric temperature. One of the historic difficulties with this assumption is the mid-20th Century cooling that took place while CO2 was increasing rapidly. The only way the models work, is to blame aerosols from human pollution for the cooling. There was little scientific evidence that pollution aerosols could actually do that, but the idea was supported by the ‘supposed’ global cooling that followed large volcanic eruptions.

    If large volcanic eruptions do not significantly reduce global temperatures, then it is unlikely that human produced aerosols do either!

    Without the aerosol assumption, climate modelers will be forced to reduce the climate sensitivity to CO2 and increase the natural variability inherent in their models, to successfully hindcast the 20th Century.

  109. Willis,
    James Marusek has a couple PDFs of weather history at his site.
    http://www.breadandbutterscience.com/Weather.pdf has a graph of Philadelphia monthly temperature differences for 1816 compared to the rest of the Dalton Minimum. 10 of the months are below that average with June being ~8F lower. Every month of that year had a hard freeze. It appears temperatures were very erratic that year and not consistently low. Perhaps due to uneven density of the volcanic ejecta?

    He must have extracted them from the monthly chapters in the book named in his reference 1. Google has a scanned copy of it.

    He also has a climate history by Douglas Hoyt which also talks about 1816.

    http://www.breadandbutterscience.com/climatehistory.pdf

  110. Willis Eschenbach says:
    April 15, 2012 at 10:58 am

    Ric Werme says:
    April 15, 2012 at 8:04 am

    … For example, I note:

    Several cold spells in May 1816 delayed the start of the planting season. June began well, but crops were lost in a cold spell between the 5th and 11th. Snow accumulated throughout all but southernmost New Hampshire. A warm spell starting the last third of June provided hope that summer had arrived, but a killing frost on July 9th dashed that hope. The rest of the month was warmer, but didn’t equal the warmest days of June. A warming trend in August abruptly ended with frost on the 21st and a worse one on the 30th.

    Cite? I mean I know where the quote came from, your web page … but on that page there is no indication of where you got that information. Not saying it’s wrong, but it sounds like it’s cobbled together from various descriptions of various locations …

    Yes, that page was indeed cobbled together. I do note near the end:

    Much of this WWW page comes from Henry and Elizabeth Stommel’s book Volcano Weather. It was published the year after the El Chichon eruption in 1982 which brought an end to azure skies for a couple years. …

    The Stommels’ accounts are the most complete, at least as far as the effects in New England. Of course, anyone who knows anything about New England weather would expect that David Ludlum’s writings would be the primary reference – the Stommels’ essentially stand on his shoulders. They also refer to some books by J.D. Post written in the 1970s that look at the economic crisis due to the food shortages in 1816.

    I don’t own the Stommel’s book.

    Some of that section may have come from http://www.islandnet.com/~see/weather/history/1816.htm which is also a collection from other sources from Quebec to Virginia.

    My goal was to add a New Hampshire centric web page about 1816 for the benefit of people interested in that subtopic (of either NH or 1816). Also, I felt that granite monument (I first heard about it in the Sci Am article) deserved a web presence. There is so much overlap in sources that it wasn’t worth making a more complete bibliography, though I am tempted to add sources I didn’t know about at the time like Brian Fagan’s “The Little Ice Age.”

    Fagan does a good job tying 1816 to the neighboring years, e.g. “The subsistance crisis of 1816/1817, triggered by catastrophic harvest failures in 1816, was the last truly extensive food dearth in the Western world. Its effects ranged from the Ottoman Empire, to parts of North Africa, large areas of Switzerland and Italy, western Europe, and even New England and eastern Canada.” The next section starts with “The cold years of 1812 to 1820 coincided with a cycle of poor grain and potato harvests, food scarcities, and rapidly rising commodity prices in societies that were already unsettled by changing economic conditions at the end of the Napoleonic wars.”

    I bought Fagan’s book after getting absorbed in it while visiting the library while my daughter was in a karate class. He has some others that may be worthwhile, though I think some have a bit of a AGW point of view.

  111. “You can’t expect to just haul off, read raw data and have it to reveal truth. That data must be ADJUSTED!”

    Yes, what are we thinking just looking at unadorned facts and unadjusted data???

    Willis, please hand this post over to James Hansen so that he can properly adjust and filter it for public consumption.

    /irony

  112. As a farmer that has grown crops for many years it is worth reminding everyone here that crops, or indeeed all plant life, need 4 things to grow. Nutrients, warmth, moisture and sunlight energy. Half of our farm is irrigated and half dryland. In a wet year the unirrigated part of the farm has higher than average yields because moisture is no longer the limiting factor. However wet years are usually cloudier and often in wet years our irrigated crops yield less than they do in dry years with irigation because the sunlight energy is then the limiting factor.
    My view.
    That, even though the temperatures were not that much cooler following the eruption, the yields decresed because of reduced sunlight intensity. Thus it is entirely possible that crops did not mature and yield before the onset of winter.

  113. If anyone were to look back at contemporary records from the UK from 2011 in 100 years time they would probably come to the conclusion that it too was a year without a summer. Then someone else might look at the historic temperature record and deduce that it was actually warmer than normal.

    Temperature clearly isn’t everything.

  114. Willis: Have you looked at the link that Philip Bradley put in his comment?

    http://www.islandnet.com/~see/weather/history/1816.htm

    This article makes a pretty convincing case that eastern North America was hit by a series of unusually severe cold fronts in spring and summer 1816 and that it was a bad time for farmers (and has commodity price data too), but points to volcanism as just one hypothesis among several (including chance). 1816 does sound like a bad one in New England, for example:
    “With an additional 175 years of meteorological records, we are able to put the Summer of 1816 into proper prospective. The mean summer temperature at New Haven of 66.2 oF was the coldest in the nearly 200 years of record and nearly 4.57 Fo colder than the mean temperature. In Philadelphia, 1816 was the second coldest year on record. The departure from normal at Cambridge, New Bedford, Williamstown and Salem, Massachusetts, and New Haven, Connecticut ranged from 2.5 to 5.0 Fo below normal for May, 5.2 to 7.0 Fo below for June, 5.4 to 7.0 Fo below during July, 1.6 to 3.2 Fo below in August, and 0.5 Fo above to 5.0 Fo below normal for September.”

  115. Ric Werme says:
    April 15, 2012 at 11:37 am

    If that’s what a really big volcano can do, I’m not impressed. Well, I am impressed, but what’s impressive is the strength of the thermostatic mechanisms that keep the earth’s temperature within a very narrow band. Even a huge volcano can’t put it out of sorts for much more than one summer, and even then not too much.

    I’m uncomfortable with this assumption, expressed here and elsewhere, that the size of an eruption affects the time it affects the climate. “Big” as in explosive eruptions, throw dust into the stratosphere. Dust is dust, and it settles out pretty quickly. The bigger concern is the SO2 that reaches the stratosphere and form a H2SO4 aerosol. These particles are a lot smaller and take more time to settle out.

    In terms of global SO4, the Tambora eruption was the second largest in the last almost 2,000 years of the Dronning Maud ice core record … so what on earth are you talking about? Because I’m talking “really big volcano” in terms of SO4 aerosols.

    w.

  116. Willis Eschenbach says:
    April 15, 2012 at 1:10 pm

    [On crop prices betweein 1816 and 1817.]

    You’re not following the story. The prices should have been highest in 1816, due to the bad crops. They weren’t. And even in 1817, the prices were lower than in 1810.

    Yeah, but if you want to bake a loaf of bread in August, 1816, you’d be using wheat from the previous harvest, which may have been okay.

    By the way, 1816 was in the middle of the Dalton Minimum. Royal astronomer Sir William Hershel put forth a controversial claim that wheat prices were affected by sun spots and ultimately had to withdraw the claim.

    However, other people have looked into the phenomenon and say it’s plausible, even now.

    The abstract from http://xxx.lanl.gov/abs/astro-ph/0312244 (.pdf available):

    Influence of Solar Activity on State of Wheat Market in Medieval England
    Authors: Lev A. Pustilnik, Gregory Yom Din
    (Submitted on 9 Dec 2003)

    Abstract: The database of Prof. Rogers (1887), which includes wheat prices in England in the Middle Ages, was used to search for a possible influence of solar activity on the wheat market. We present a conceptual model of possible modes for sensitivity of wheat prices to weather conditions, caused by solar cycle variations, and compare expected price fluctuations with price variations recorded in medieval England.

    We compared statistical properties of the intervals between wheat price bursts during years 1249-1703 with statistical properties of the intervals between minimums of solar cycles during years 1700-2000. We show that statistical properties of these two samples are similar, both for characteristics of the distributions and for histograms of the distributions. We analyze a direct link between wheat prices and solar activity in the 17th Century, for which wheat prices and solar activity data (derived from 10Be isotope) are available. We show that for all 10 time moments of the solar activity minimums the observed prices were higher than prices for the correspondent time moments of maximal solar activity (100% sign correlation, on a significance level < 0.2%). We consider these results as a direct evidence of the causal connection between wheat prices bursts and solar activity.

  117. Willis Eschenbach says:
    April 15, 2012 at 1:10 pm and at other times

    Willis if you look at the paper referenced earlier there is data in Appendix 1 going from 1206 to
    1914

    http://www.econ.ucdavis.edu/faculty/gclark/papers/Agprice.pdf

    I haven’t read the paper in detail, nor am I statician, so don’t know where their data came from or what weightings have been applied but just looking at the data published the twenty years 1801-1820 in isolation could be misleading. Looking at the published data 1816,1817 and 1818 fall in the top 60 as far as the price of Wheat, barleyand Oats are concerned. It looks like you have to see the full picture. Out of about 700 years worth of data Order by highest price first:

    for Wheat
    1816 20th
    1817 7th
    1818 10th

    for Oats
    1816 85th
    1817 55th
    1818 56th

    for Barley
    1816 29th
    1817 7th
    1818 6th

    Looks like from this data 1817 may have been the year of high prices. So the price of Bread and Beer the two staples would have been high and it would not have been cheap to feed horses in England and Men in Scotland (see Dr Johnson and Boswell).

    Perhaps those more qualified than I would like to investegate further.

  118. FWIW Tambora, Krakatoa, and Pinatubo were in SE Asia, the SO2/Ash clouds would effect the NH less than the SH and Europe probably less than the US. We have data from Pinatubo on how the sun was shaded and UV was affected by the volcanos In addition to the critical points about cold snaps, crops are affected by UV.

    Historically, in Europe, the two decades of wars touched off by the French Revolution ended in 1815, so looking at food prices in Europe may not be such a good proxy for temperature.

  119. Allen MacRae:
    “Claims by CAGW climate modelers of SIGNIFICANT impacts of humanmade aerosols causing sufficient global cooling to offset their claims of dangerous CO2-driven global warming must be FALSE
    AND
    Claims by CAGW climate modelers that Climate Sensitivity to CO2* is approximately 3.5C must be greatly exaggerated. ”

    Yes, I’d say that’s about right.

  120. Willis Eschenbach says:
    April 15, 2012 at 1:50 pm

    In terms of global SO4, the Tambora eruption was the second largest in the last almost 2,000 years of the Dronning Maud ice core record … so what on earth are you talking about? Because I’m talking “really big volcano” in terms of SO4 aerosols.

    I’m so sorry, I’ve been working on taxes (e.g. what’s the basis of AFC, divested by Ford, then bought by Citigroup, who sold off the fractional shares (twice – a partial AFC share and a partial Citgroup share!) and then did a 10 for 1 stock split). I haven’t been paying much attention to Dronning Maud.

    Lessee, from
    ftp://ftp.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/paleo/icecore/antarctica/maud/edml-so4-2004.txt :

    Sample Name          Year(top)   Year(bot)   SO4[ng/g]    Na[ng/g]
    SS9805-1              1998.35     1998.00      72.30
    SS9805-2              1998.00     1997.71      27.85
    ...
    DML05Ha-137           1971.67     1971.61      85.73        9.31
    DML05Ha-138           1971.61     1971.56     340.49     5820.05
    DML05Ha-139           1971.56     1971.44      95.76       85.72
    ...
    DML05Low-67           1887.00     1886.00      66.22
    DML05Low-68           1886.00     1885.00     124.71
    DML05Low-69           1885.00     1884.00     163.51
    DML05Low-70           1884.00     1883.00     199.10
    DML05Low-71           1883.00     1882.00      55.14
    ...
    DML05Low-143          1818.54     1818.00      73.97
    DML05Low-144          1818.00     1817.00     204.20
    DML05Low-145          1817.00     1816.00     287.94
    DML05Low-146          1816.00     1815.00     276.75
    DML05Low-147          1815.00     1814.00      67.59

    What was that 1971 volcano? I found Villarrica in Chile, but that didn’t erupt until October, and it’s in the Southern Hemisphere anyway. Is that really 340.49 ng/g in just a week or two?

    At any rate, it looks like Tambora got more SO4 out than Krakatau. That might be worth adding to my 1816 page too.

    Back to taxes. Well, and everything else I was going to do. And what was the price of AFC when we got it from my mother in law’s estate? Not a problem – I have a price that’s close enough.

  121. Eli Rabett says:
    April 15, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    That probably answers my question, though it’s interesting that prices were highest after the war had finished.

  122. Here is CET temperature record as “anomaly” from the 1781-1810 seasonal average , as provided by KNMI climate explorer, filtered with a 90 day 3-sigma low-pass gaussian:

    The annotations show have years following Tambora eruption had notably milder winter than the preceding seasonal average: +1.5 and +2.0 C warmer.

    This suggests that volcanoes not only cool the summer but warm the subsequent winters. This is the first time I’ve looked at Tambora but I had previously noticed this effect with the recent 20th c. volcanoes.

    I also think there are indications that there is a positive warming “rebound” in the years immediately following a major eruption showing the climate feedback working to reestablish the previous state of equilibrium. “This requires further funding to investigate”.

  123. >>Allan MacRae says:
    >>I’ve been harping (since at least 2006) about the FABRICATED aerosol data that is used to fudge the climate computer models, particularly to force them to model (hindcast) the global cooling that occurred from ~1940-1975.

    Alarmists claim that the rising temperatures after 1975 were the result of legislation to limit sulphate emissions. However a plot of first world and third world fossil fuel consumption shows that third world consumption exceeded first world consumption around 1980, of course with no restrictions on emissions. Claiming a drop in aerosols around 1975 sounds like nonsense.

  124. TerryS says:
    April 15, 2012 at 11:03 am
    John West says:

    There must have been a huge eruption in 1810, since the 1812 food prices are so high. /sarc

    There was and it was called war.
    The War of 1812 was between the British and the Americans.
    The Peninsular War was between the British (allied with Spain and Portugal) and France.
    Fighting on multiple fronts probably impacted the price of food in the UK.

    ===========
    Also ongoing in the Napoleonic wars – 1812 Napoleon was in Borodino, the 1812 Overture and all that, and Napoleon met his Waterloo in 1915.

    But, there was a huge previously unknown explosion in 1809 –

    http://ucsdnews.ucsd.edu/newsrel/science/10-09Volcano.asp

    “Previously Unknown Volcanic
    Eruption Helped Trigger Cold Decade
    October 27, 2009
    By Kim McDonald and Lance Nixon
    The previously unknown eruption in 1809 was larger than the Mt. Pinatubo eruption. Credit: USGS

    A team of chemists from the U.S. and France has found compelling evidence of a previously undocumented large volcanic eruption that occurred exactly 200 years ago, in 1809.

    The discovery, published online this week in the scientific journal Geophysical Research Letters, offers an explanation as to why the decade from 1810 to 1819 is regarded by scientists as the coldest on record for the past 500 years.

    “We’ve never seen any evidence of this eruption in Greenland that corresponds to a simultaneous explosion recorded in Antarctica before in the glacial record,” said Mark Thiemens, Dean of the Division of Physical Sciences at UC San Diego and one of the co-authors of the study. “But if you look at the size of the signal we found in the ice cores, it had to be huge. It was bigger than the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines, which killed hundreds of people and affected climate around the world.”

    The wiki page on it, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Year_Without_a_Summer gives a fair selection of the kind of reports I’ve read in the past about this year, and, quite frankly, I would have thought that observation would have been the first port of call to understanding that year. And from that to understanding the temperature records. And there are references..

    This bit under causes interesting:

    “Causes It is now generally thought that the aberrations occurred because of the 1815 (April 5–15) volcanic Mount Tambora eruption[14][15] on the island of Sumbawa, Indonesia .. The eruption had a Volcanic Explosivity Index ranking of 7, a super-colossal event that ejected immense amounts of volcanic dust into the upper atmosphere. It was the world’s largest eruption since the Hatepe eruption over 1,630 years earlier in AD 180.

    That the 1815 eruption occurred during the middle of the Dalton Minimum (a period of unusually low solar activity) may also be significant.[citation needed]

    Other large volcanic eruptions (with VEI at least 4) during the same time frame are:

    1812, La Soufrière on Saint Vincent in the Caribbean
    1812, Awu in the Sangihe Islands, Indonesia
    1813, Suwanosejima in the Ryukyu Islands, Japan
    1814, Mayon in the Philippines
    These other eruptions had already built up a substantial amount of atmospheric dust. As is common following a massive volcanic eruption, temperatures fell worldwide because less sunlight passed through the atmosphere.”

    And as P. Solar says:
    April 15, 2012 at 9:02 am
    However, it should be noted that this was not just one volcanic event. The decade leading up to Tambora was highly active and one should not be looking for a one year event.

    So in 1809 an eruption bigger than Pinatubo last century and “the decade from 1810 to 1819 is regarded by scientists as the coldest on record for the past 500 years”, and, “Our new evidence is that the volcanic sulfuric acid came down at the opposite poles at precisely the same time, and this means that the sulfate is from a single large eruption of a volcano in 1809,” Cole-Dai said. “The Tambora eruption and the undocumented 1809 eruption are together responsible for the unusually cold decade.”

    Cole-Dai said the Tambora eruption was immense, sending about 100 million tons of sulfur gas into the atmosphere, but the ice core samples suggests the 1809 eruption was also very large — perhaps half the size of Tambora — and would also have cooled the earth for a few years. The researchers reason that, because the sulfuric acid is found in the ice from both polar regions, the eruption probably occurred in the tropics, as Tambora did, where wind patterns could carry volcanic material to the entire world, including both poles.”

    Willis – there were famines and sickness and mass migrations from these volcanic eruptions – if you want to know why some places not as badly affected as some then as others have noted, you’ll need to take into account farming and wind patterns. That wiki page is actually a good take-off point to exploring these, because, to discount what is known historically and dismiss the devastation caused, results in your superficial understanding of the temperature record and so your:

    “And I would guess that a careful search would reveal some records with cooler summers than the ones I’ve found here. But overall, let me suggest that over the years the Tambora story has gotten greatly exaggerated, just as we do today with our stories of “Cold? You haven’t seen real cold. Why, when I was a young man it was so cold that …”

    is simply crass.

  125. Re: UK food prices

    By the years given and with vukcevic mentioning “Napoleon’s European experiment”, I recalled something rather important, the War of 1812, “June 18, 1812 – February 18, 1815″ with the last two months being how long it took word of the peace treaty to reach the US and end the fighting.

    Taken together with the Napoleonic Wars, and a blockade of American ports that “…resulted in American exports decreasing from $130 million in 1807 to $7 million in 1814″ thus severely reducing shipments of American agricultural products, and likely attempts to increase British domestic production during the period that lead to a market glut later, I do not see how much can be learned by the 1816 drop in prices.

    What may tell of the impact of a “Year without a Summer” is found in that study on pdf pg 103, “Appendix Table 4: Price Indices” that covers 1810 to 1849, “Arable” column, with “Arable” being field crops as detailed on pdf pg 24 in “Table 1: Weights of the arable components of the index by period.”

    I would expect a lag in the price effect of a year of bad crop yields as existing stores are used up and there’s a delay before new production can supply current demand and replenish stores. Thus a bad 1816 would show up in 1817 and later prices, perhaps several years later as one year’s good production would be hard pressed to make up a bad year and fully replenish stores.

    And there it is in the Price Indices, “Arable” has a strong rise for 1817-1819 before settling down to the expected range for the rest of the record to 1849. Since trade with the US had been restored which would offset production losses both domestic and with nearby European trading partners, this would indicate US production may also have had declines.

    Thus it appears to me something did happen that negatively affected the production of field-grown products in 1816, affecting Great Britain, Europe, and the US as well.

  126. For Crop Prices, one needs to look at a longer perspective than just a few years because they are highly variable, especially before 1900. Probably the biggest impact is Wars actually.

    Here is a chart of Wheat Prices for 100 cities around the world (monthly) from 1800 to 1900. There is certainly an increase around 1816 but there are many other spikes (some based on local conditions such as the US South during the Civil War etc.)

    And then US Corn and Wheat Prices from 1784 to 2012 (nominal first, inflation-adjusted second). In inflation-adjusted terms, the Spring of 1817 is the highest price in the period but it is very short-lived as prices collapsed soon after. The crops of 1817 and 1818 must have been very good.

  127. Willis says: “You’re not following the story. The prices should have been highest in 1816, due to the bad crops. They weren’t. And even in 1817, the prices were lower than in 1810″

    No, Willis you are not thinking. What time of year is Thanks Giving? What are thanks being given for?!

    The NH harvest is early autumn for many crops. Shortages would hit the end months of the year but mainly the following year. Crop failure in 1816 would be most seem in 1817. I thought that was self evident so I did not spell it out. Apparently I was over-estimating some of my audience.

    I am not totally against what you are saying. I think there is some cooling which is concordant with with volcanic events but agree that it does not jump out of the page and it is hard to pick out the years on a blind test. So there is some evidence of cooling but it’s weak and would need some stats on all such events and error margins to put it into context.

    This does support the contention that climate models are being fed a highly exaggerated volcanic forcing for later half of 20th c. which is an excuse to increase CO2 to compensate.

    See my previous post on warmer winters and volcano rebound. We’re not miles apart on this.

  128. Frank says:
    April 15, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    Willis: If you haven’t done so, you might want to look at the Wikipedia article on the Year Without a Summer and look at its map of temperature anomalies that came from the reconstruction made Luterbacher

    http://www.giub.unibe.ch/klimet/docs/luterbacheretal_science.pdf

    ftp://ftp.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/paleo/historical/europe-seasonal-files/

    Thanks for the references, Frank. Most of that depends on the Luterbacher reconstruction. This might be termed a “meta-reconstruction”, because it is a reconstruction that purports to draw together other reconstructions. At that point, what are the true error bounds? They say the reconstruction is based on instrumental series, weather diaries, letters, annals, chronicles, accounts of townships, ship cargos, agriculture, water- and windmills, the accounts of river tolls, etc …

    In any case, the oddity to me is that if Luterbacher is correct, the effect of the volcano seems to be far from global, and indeed far from regional. According to your first link the cold weather seems to have hit France hard … while at the same time Poland and Russia were warmer than usual.

    And when we look at Luterbacher’s full European reconstruction for the period, from your third citation above …

    As you can see, the summer of 1821 on average was colder than the summer of 1816, which in turn was only slightly cooler than the summer of 1815.

    w.

  129. Frank, I just noticed something very tricksy about the Luterbacher reconstruction map of temperatures that is the first of your references.

    It says:

    1816 summer temperature anomaly (°C) with respect to 1971-2000 climatology.

    That’s comparing apples and oranges. Since the earth has warmed since then, it will make the 1816 summer look cold by comparison … sneaky. They should show it agains the 1771-1800 climatology, or at least adjust the 1971-2000 climatology downwards to reflect the difference …

    Not nice at all.

    w.

  130. “The temperature of the earth is not particularly ruled by the changes in how much energy it receives.”

    Eh?

  131. Looks like we need to start each day by reciting the following,
    1. Correlation does not a cause make
    2. Be wary of the correlation
    3. ” says who?”
    I don’t believe anything unless I see it with my own eyes and even then I am not too sure.

  132. P. Solar says:
    April 15, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    “Dr Dave says: “The UAH satellite data clearly shows a cooling following the Mt. Pinatubo eruption so in my mind that establishes the link.”

    What reason do you have to suppose whatever data you are referring to would not have cooled if there had not been an eruption?

    Don’t know what you got you doctorate in Doc”
    _______________________________________________________________
    I find your response unnecessarily insolent in tone. My doctorate is certainly NOT in climate science. It is in the mundane field of human health. Perhaps you do not understand the difference between “link”, “correlation” and “causation”. I specifically wrote link. You’re absolutely correct, neither Dr. Roy Spencer nor I can possibly know for sure that the Pinatubo eruption caused the cooling observed. It was a single event. However what resulted was expected and anticipated and therefore are “linked”. There are far too few data points to even consider using the word “correlate.” We would need about 30 more Pinatubo sized eruptions within the time span of the satellite record to define a definite correlation and subsequent causation.

    If you pay attention you’ll notice lawyers LOVE the word “link”. Statistically it is nearly meaningless. In medicine links are established by the temporal relationship of events (e.g. patient A took Drug X for six months then developed CHF). There is no correlation because there’s only one (or just a few) patient(s) and there’s certainly no causation establsihed. But the link has been made. Lawyers don’t have to PROVE a damn thing in these cases. They only have to convince a jury.

    I suggest you wander over to Dr. Spencer’s blog and explain to him why he’s wrong. You already know what HIS doctorate is in.

  133. P. Solar says:
    April 15, 2012 at 2:57 pm

    Willis says: “You’re not following the story. The prices should have been highest in 1816, due to the bad crops. They weren’t. And even in 1817, the prices were lower than in 1810″

    No, Willis you are not thinking. What time of year is Thanks Giving? What are thanks being given for?!

    Ummm … for stealing the Americas from the Early Asian Immigrants?

    The NH harvest is early autumn for many crops. Shortages would hit the end months of the year but mainly the following year. Crop failure in 1816 would be most seem in 1817. I thought that was self evident so I did not spell it out. Apparently I was over-estimating some of my audience.

    Logic didn’t work for you, so you now try insults?

    If there is a bad harvest, prices rise in advance of the harvest because a bad harvest is generally obvious well in advance. In England, historically the crop year ran from Michaelmas to Michaelmas (September 29th) because the harvest was in by then. If the harvest turned out as bad as feared, then in the three months after Michaelmas, the price rise would have been even steeper.

    So we should have seen some price rise in 1816 reflecting the supposed bad harvest. Instead … the prices fell. What does that tell you?

    Next, if you look at the chart I posted above, 1817, like 1816, is one of the lower-priced years in the decade. If 1816 was as bad as is claimed and if (as you say) the main price rise would be seen in 1817, prices should have gone through the roof. They didn’t. Not only didn’t food prices go through the roof, prices in 1817 were the THIRD LOWEST of the 11 years I showed. How does your theory explain that?

    w.

  134. Zac says:
    April 15, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    “The temperature of the earth is not particularly ruled by the changes in how much energy it receives.”

    Eh?

    The earth’s temperature is governed by thermostatic mechanisms that keep it remarkably stable in spite of fairly large changes in how much energy it receives.

    w.

  135. vukcevic says:
    April 15, 2012 at 12:18 pm

    Willis you have to put prices of commodities in the historical perspective at the time:

    During the Napoleon’s European experiment there was stockpiling of commodities by British government, increasing price to a large degree. Once Napoleon was defeated in Russia, there was huge surplus available throughout 1815 & 16, but if there was poor harvest in 1816 than prices would shoot up in 1817 again, but possibly not as high because of previous stockpiling.

    http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/ECP1810-20.htm

    Historic perspective : think of oil price during number of Israel-Arab conflicts. In Europe these things are in our DNA.

    Interesting thought, vukcevic, but I’d have to see some cites, both to the “food stockpiling” and the “increasing price to a large degree”. From what I can tell, the needs of the army were met by aggressive trade.

    According to this one, much of the food used by the British Army was purchased from the US … here’s a quote:

    In 1812, over 381,000 barrels of flour reached Spain and another 557,000 went to Portugal, meeting immediate needs and also allowing the accumulation of five months stock at Lisbon.[57] The next year, Spain received 430,000 barrels, while shipments to Portugal fell to 542,000,[58] perhaps due to Wellington shifting his line of communication north to Coruńa and Vigo in Spain.[59] Nonetheless, during the first year and a half of the American War, almost two million barrels of grain, representing 60% of the flour sold by the Americans between 1808 and 1813, were received.[60]

    Finally, after Napoleon’s foolish Russian misadventure, the war ended in 1814. I doubt greatly if there was a “huge surplus” of food anywhere at that point.

    In any case, I find it hard to believe that a “Year Without A Summer” would fail to be reflected in English food prices, regardless of whether there were food stockpiles in 1814 or not.

    Here is a graph of the farm product price index from the above-cited reference, along with a red line showing the timing of the Napoleonic Wars.

    w.

  136. climatereason says:
    April 15, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    … My surmise would be that volcanos did have periodic effects in some months in some places according to the wind patterns of the time.
    tonyb

    Thanks, Tony. I agree, with the proviso that the effects were short-lived. The essence of my argument is that the temperature is not ruled by forcings, and that as a result, volcanoes don’t have the large effects ascribed to them by AGW supporters.

    You see, if the current estimates of climate sensitivity are right, volcanoes should have a very marked and easily visible effect on the climate … but they don’t.

    w.

  137. For anyone wanting to follow up the effect of volcanoes on climate, I recommend “The Year Without a Summer? World Climate in 1816″ produced by the Canadian Museum of Nature. It is 576 pages and weighs 1.6 kg. Price (including postage I believe) is $15. Link:http://nature.ca/prodserv/cat/index.cfm?fuseaction=store.viewProduct&french=0&ID=4188&intCatalogID=56&WCID=F23EF296D4EE1534AC1DA08859F21BB6&intSubcategoryID=84

    On the cover of the book is the image of a medallion struck in southern Germany in memory of the great famine of 1816-1817. The book was produced in 1992 and as such predates the corruption of climate science by the warmers.

    For anyone doubting the effects of volcanoes on climate, I recommend reading the chapter “Climatic effects of the 1783 Laki Eruption”. The Mississippi River froze at New Orleans. Floating masses of ice were met by ships in the 28th degree of latitude, which is 100 km south of the Mississipe Delta.

  138. Willis, a few questions…..
    Did you consider; (?)
    “The datasets that can be downloaded from the website make use of only the public stations series……….. Therefore results created from the downloaded datasets might not necessarily be the same as those given elsewhere on this website.”

    Do you believe these data have not be considered in the scientists that would disagree with you’s work, or were they were and previously misinterpreted?

    Should Dr. Spencer be removing the ‘Mt Pinatubo cooling’ graphic from his work?

    Cheers, Nick.

  139. John K. Sutherland. says:
    April 15, 2012 at 12:31 pm

    I usually hate to direct anyone to Wikipedia, but if you type in ‘Year without a summer’ quite a lot of history is returned concerning this time and the effects of several cold years. 1816 was the year when certain food exports were prohibited because of shortages, and when farms were abandoned as the farmers became hunters or went to work in the woods. There is enough history of this time to show how hard it was in at least the northern hemisphere..

    Say what? I find nothing on the Wiki page (which of course I had previously read) regarding the banning of the export of foods. Much of what is on the page is un-cited. I know that’s the legend. I’m trying to see what the truth content of the legend might be.

    For example, they say of the Northeastern US:

    The price of that staple food, oats, for example, rose from 12¢ a bushel ($3.40/m³) in 1815, equal to $1.52 in today’s purchasing power to 92¢ a bushel ($26/m³) in 1816, equal to $12.6 today.

    I find nothing to support that. In the Cincinnati area, in 1814 oats were $0.50 per bushel, $0.34 per bushel in 1816, and $0.40 per bushel in 1817. And the least they ever were there was $0.21 per bushel in 1805. (SOURCE)

    So as usual, Wikipedia is a source of urban legends, and you should have stuck with hating to direct anyone there …

    w.

  140. vukcevic says:
    April 15, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    Not a lesson in European history but a brief reminder
    Willis this is map of Europe at 1812

    If you were running British government what would you do about stockpiling grain?
    This is map of Europe just 3 years later in 1815

    If you were running British government what would you do about the stockpiled grain?
    Historical context is here HUGE factor.

    The Brits stockpiled some grain, but they stockpiled it in France. I can’t find any evidence that they brought it back to the UK.

    During the Napoleon’s European experiment there was stockpiling of commodities by British government, increasing price to a large degree. Once Napoleon was defeated in Russia, there was huge surplus available throughout 1815 & 16, but if there was poor harvest in 1816 than prices would shoot up in 1817 again, but possibly not as high because of previous stockpiling.

    http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/ECP1810-20.htm

    Your graph is meaningless without a source. And you still haven’t provided any citation for your claim of a “huge surplus available”. Cite?

    w/

  141. I think the graphs are too small a study for what was likely to be a phenomenon that was both cumulative over years/decades and regionally variable.

    The years prior saw several large eruptions which probably had a cumulative effect, so the ‘year without a summer’ probably was part of a longer trend with regional variations, not necessarily shown in averaged temperatures from small sample sizes.

    On another note, with volcanoes I think the idea of tipping points applies, i.e. longer term climate disruptions from volcanic episodes generally correspond to longer- lived volcanic events, such as the Siberian Traps and the Permian extinction. The ‘year without a summer’ may have been an anecdotal and largley regional response to a phenomenon that involved several years of volcanic effects.

  142. Willis, you said “Tambora was the big cheese, the grand gorgonzola of volcanoes.”

    Remarkable simile! Thanks for the grins!! Excellent analysis also, well done.

  143. Tim Folkerts says:
    April 15, 2012 at 12:46 pm

    WIllis says:

    “Nylo, the graphs above show that there were a number of places that didn’t suffer the terrible summer”

    I think you are missing the point Nylo was trying to make. When you point out other cold years, you seem to look through a few decade’s worth of data to find a good example of a cold summer. I get 1803, 1809, 1812, 1834, 1843, 1844 and 1844 for the alternate years. But when it was a cold summer in one spot in 1803, was it cold in ALL the other spots that year? We don;t know, because you purposely picked the alternate years to show that there were indeed other cold summers.

    But 1816 seems to be below average in ALL the spots you looked at. That is, in itself is significant. 7 sites being below average for random data is definitely statistically significant (1/128). Now, these numbers are certainly correlated (cold weather in one city is correlated with cold weather in nearby cities), so this would lower the statical significance.

    Was 1816 cooler than average most places in Europe? Seems like.

    Is this unusual? No way. When one place in Europe is cold, many times most places in Europe are cold.

    Was the 1816 cold unique or extreme? Hardly. As my graphs show, in every place I looked colder summers were easy to find.

    Was the Europe-wide summer of 1816 unusually cold across the board, or as you put it regarding 1816, “below average in all the spots”? Not very, see the Luterbacher reconstruction above. According to Luterbacher that was true in 1821, but not 1816.

    Remind me what I’m missing?

    w.

  144. From Willis Eschenbach on April 15, 2012 at 3:35 pm:

    If there is a bad harvest, prices rise in advance of the harvest because a bad harvest is generally obvious well in advance. In England, historically the crop year ran from Michaelmas to Michaelmas (September 29th) because the harvest was in by then. If the harvest turned out as bad as feared, then in the three months after Michaelmas, the price rise would have been even steeper.

    So we should have seen some price rise in 1816 reflecting the supposed bad harvest. Instead … the prices fell. What does that tell you?

    Both real shortages and war speculation drove up prices before 1816. For 1816, resumed trade, increases in domestic production taking advantage of earlier higher prices, and earlier hoarding all together reduced prices due to a temporary market glut.

    There is also a time delay in information going between the US and Great Britain. Heck, took two months to learn the War of 1812 was over. If the British markets were expecting US production to make up some shortfalls in 1816, the full impact of bad US harvests would have largely missed 1816 British prices. (Oh, I scanned the study and it looks like standard years were used.)

    Next, if you look at the chart I posted above, 1817, like 1816, is one of the lower-priced years in the decade. If 1816 was as bad as is claimed and if (as you say) the main price rise would be seen in 1817, prices should have gone through the roof. They didn’t. Not only didn’t food prices go through the roof, prices in 1817 were the THIRD LOWEST of the 11 years I showed. How does your theory explain that?

    (Not my theory, that’s just included in the quote.)

    In my comment I looked at field-grown crops. That would hopefully identify something affecting the growing of plants. And I found something for 1817-19, a large price index increase for “Arable” crops, which can indicate the 1816 field harvest was lousy. Note I didn’t state what the cause was, just noted how 1816 field-grown crops looked negatively affected by something.

  145. If you have a late frost especially after warm weather where the trees are budding. It can kill the buds and then it seems like you have no summer regardless of how warm it gets. You can have a normal year and because the buds died, a lot of the crops fail.

  146. I’ve seen written records (published in the later 1800’s based on recollections of those who lived through it) indicating that there were severe crop losses occasioned by a killing frosts in Juna and then in early July in areas of the Northeast US (6 weeks into the normal growing season). A simple web search (e.g. 1816 July frost) will turn up many similar recountings (e.g. http://wermenh.com/1816.html). Irrespective of mean temperatures, low temperature events made the crop year a disaster.

  147. macromite says:
    April 15, 2012 at 1:46 pm

    Willis: Have you looked at the link that Philip Bradley put in his comment?

    http://www.islandnet.com/~see/weather/history/1816.htm

    This article makes a pretty convincing case that eastern North America was hit by a series of unusually severe cold fronts in spring and summer 1816 and that it was a bad time for farmers (and has commodity price data too), but points to volcanism as just one hypothesis among several (including chance).

    Sure, I try to look at all the links. I agree that 1816 was unusual. I also think that the story, over the years, has been greatly hyped and exaggerated.

    At best the effect lasted for a part of a year (one summer) over a part of the globe (parts of the Northern Hemisphere) … and I don’t find that too impressive.

    w.

  148. Regarding agricultural commodity prices:
    hen, as always, commodity prices where heavily influenced by the monetary base. The late Dr Milton Freidman did not invent this phenomenon he merely discovered it and put it in the literature.

  149. Eli Rabett says:
    April 15, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    FWIW Tambora, Krakatoa, and Pinatubo were in SE Asia, the SO2/Ash clouds would effect the NH less than the SH and Europe probably less than the US. We have data from Pinatubo on how the sun was shaded and UV was affected by the volcanos In addition to the critical points about cold snaps, crops are affected by UV.

    Historically, in Europe, the two decades of wars touched off by the French Revolution ended in 1815, so looking at food prices in Europe may not be such a good proxy for temperature.

    Thanks, Eli, interesting point about UV. I think you meant it would affect the NH more than the SH. My point, which your contention supports, is that the volcano affected only part of the world for part of a year.

    w.

  150. I was in northern Minnesota a couple of summers ago, in early August. Several locals referred to this as a year without a summer.

  151. I may have missed something in all this long posting but at the time of the Tambora eruption what was the sun doing? The past few years have seen low solar activity and there has also been cooler summer maximums for the past few years so, although the volcanism probably did have some effect on weather it may have been allied to the low solar activity as seems to have been the case for the past couple of years.

  152. Willis,
    Have you had any luck in finding the source for “The Year Without A Summer” claim? and who tied it down to the summer of 1816?

  153. Here’s a funny coincidence, Swiss astronomer Rudolf Wolf was born during the summer of 1816.

  154. Willis Eschenbach says:
    April 15, 2012 at 12:33 pm

    Were temperatures cooler in 1816? Sure. Was it significant? Not most places,

    A dodge? What does it take to ruin or ‘do in’ a crop? A killing frost in July, or snow in June (ice crystals in contact with green leafy vegetation)? An unusual run of cool and damp (wet/rainy) conditions at the end of ‘ripening’ season straight through into harvest time?

    In the case of a frost, one night should be sufficient to kill, yet in an ‘averaged’ temperature depiction might tend only to the ‘low’ end of what looks normal on Willis’ charts.

    And – where are the temperature records/charts which would reflect the accounts of snow in June (with the accompanying low temp indication)?

    I don’t see one ‘chart’ showing an excursion to 0 deg. C ostensibly during the summer period of time on your charts; are these ‘charts’ (or your data) of insufficient resolution to show this information?

    Perhaps the charts were (cherry) picked to avoid depicting the frosts or snows in summer (as accounts detail)?

    Anyway, for additional fodder I will enter the following into the record:

    The introduction to this book provides some ‘growing season’ charts encompassing the year 1816 for three different locations in the northeast USA: Encyclopedia of Volcanoes
    By Bruce Houghton, Hazel Rymer, Steve McNutt, Haraldur Sigurdsson, John Stix

    .- – – – – – – – – – – – –

    From: Rural Conflict, Crime, and Protest: Herefordshire, 1800 to 1860 By Timothy Shakesheff

    “As Figure 4.1 illustrates the exceptional bread prices of 1817 correspond with the exceptional year for sheep-thefts.” (Crime was on the rise and foodstuffs became expensive, so ppl turned to ‘theft’ to survive)

    – – – – – – – – – – –

    From:
    A Study in Meterological and Trade Cycle History: The Economic Crisis Following the Napoleonic Wars

    by John D. Post

    The Journal of Economic History
    Vol. 34, No. 2 (Jun., 1974), pp. 315-349

    Partial (Google search) description (since the doc is behind a paywall):
    … patterns as a primary independent variable determining prosperity or depression. ….. ing the years 1815-1816 for 11 locations in 11 countries and three continents. … The spring and summer months of 1816 were unseasonably cold in the eastern half …… of grain production occurred on a major scale after 1816. …

    .

  155. You don’t have to go back to 1816. 2011-12 was a year without a summer in Sydney Australia. Temperatures weren’t abnormally low. It simply rained about every second day on average.

    It made Tim Flannery look a fool with his forecast of “perpetual drought”, that was much of the basis for our now mothballed desalination plant.

  156. Old woman of the north says:
    April 15, 2012 at 7:20 pm

    “The past few years have seen low solar activity and there has also been cooler summer maximums for the past few years so, although the volcanism probably did have some effect on weather it may have been allied to the low solar activity as seems to have been the case for the past couple of years.”

    Solar Cycles 4, 5 and 6 from about 1798-1835 are three of the the lowest cycles on recorded dates between 1749 – 2009. Our current cycle SC-24 is shaping up to be of similar size so far, It’s been interesting to watch the (possibly associated) volcanic activity and the colder winters setting in.

  157. Okay if we want to see if volcanoes can have a measurable impact on climate look at the 3 biggest for the time period that the ice cores cover.

    Long Valley (700,000 BC), Yellowstone (300,000 BC) and Toba (72,000 BC). All are 8’s on the VEI. I know the ice cores might miss it because the longest ice cores are from Antartica but you would expect to see something. Maybe it is the resolution, maybe it is me or maybe it doesn’t have the effect on climate.

    Like others have pointed out it may affect some food production is some regions but it does not appear to affect climate. Sunshine hitting the plants? More early and late frost kills? Interesting as always. Thanks Willis.

  158. …sorry to come to this discussion so late and notice only one mention of the Manley’s Central England Temperature record (1953, 1974).

    Commenter ‘mfo’ above refers us to one of the longest — and oft regarded the most accurate — thermometer-based record around. On page 402 you see this graph:

    http://enthusiasmscepticismscience.wordpress.com/global-temperature-graphs/1973-manley-central-england-temp-record/

    Look especially at the Summer line and you will see a significant dip in the running 10 year average just before 1820. This can be confirmed in the data. Other years seem to have either a slow start or early end to the summer. But for 1816 the average temperature across June, July, August and September remains low. But still not really cold…not at all like winter….and not much like autumn either. And this is where Willis misses an important point…

    Temperature averages, or even temperature, is not all what ‘summer’ is about. In high latitude agricultural societies ‘good’ summers are sunny and warm, while ‘bad’ summers are are cloudy, stormy and rainy… and cool. The potato famine occurred in a ‘bad’ summer, where the excessively wet conditions stimulated the fungal growth on the potatoes. Bad summers were about crop failure. Stormy wet (slightly colder) conditions are what often causes crop failure at these latitudes.

    For a farmer, a year without a crop is a year without summer. If you look at the records, this is exactly what the farmers of 1816 were complaining about in the regions affected. Crops were also killed by frosts during dramatic short drops in temperature — increase variability that may not show in mean temp data.

    But then in the update Willis notes a low point in food prices in 1816 that seems to contradict this. How much, I am not sure. Harvest is late in the year in the northern hemisphere, yes? So the declining price trend is reversed in 1816 and then there is a climb in price over the next 3 years. I find it hard to distinguish the colours in the graph, but one would want to look at the movement of staple crops effected by soggy conditions eg, wheat, oats as well as potatoes.

    In the 1890s Eduard Bruckner actually proposed a link between rate of migration to the new world with good/bad summers accord to the sunny-dry cloudy-wet variable. This was based on the fact that a bad (soggy) summer at high latitudes (eg UK) often meant a good summer closer to the desert fringe at mid-latitudes (eg Utah, Australia). Good sources of the impact of climate change on agrarian societies during the 19th century are also H H Lamb, and M L Parry.

  159. Regarding the aforementioned War of 1812 between Canada and the USA:

    The USA is by far the best neighbour Canada could ever ask for. Canada is now the largest foreign supplier of oil to the USA. We are still, I think, the largest bilateral trading partners in the world.

    We have managed to get along and prosper together for over two hundred years, apart from some unpleasantries in 1812, when we burned the White House and the Yanks burned Toronto.

    Confidentially, people from all over Canada agree that Toronto ought to be burned from time to time, so we think we got the better of that deal.

    Then the Americans thought they would have an easier time with the Quebecois, so invaded via Lake Champlain and the Richelieu River. The crafty Quebecois challenged them to a hockey game, and then dropped their gloves before the opening face-off and beat the crap out of the unsuspecting Yanks. It`s been a cherished Canadian hockey tradition ever since.

    Then there was the Oregon Crisis of 1844-45: “54-40 or Fight!“ The USA is really fortunate that it did not win that one – just imagine the impact on USA politics if you had all the lefties in BC allied with all the lefties in California, Oregon and Washington – you`d have a full blown confluence of intellectual putrescence, a critical mass of Left Coast demagoguery, a catastrophic breach in the firmament, fire and brimstone coming down from the sky, dogs and cats living together… .. kind of like the Obama White House, only bigger.

  160. Meat prices could be indicative of over supply, under supply, or insufficient feed due to poor growing conditions and thus the need to sell it before its expiration, driving down prices.

    The unusual killing frosts cited above from Thomas Jefferson are far more informative for farmers than average minimum temperatures.

    The wealth of information supplied in Willis’ post and the following blogger comments seem to me to point in the direction that large volcanic eruptions can, temporarily, affect temperature over select areas.

  161. Here is an alternate (possible) cause of the Year Without a Summer.

    The extreme cold bursts across eastern N America (caused by natural weather variability) result in periods of much colder than normal air over the eastern Atlantic. As I mentioned above, the temperature differential between ocean and atmosphere is what drives ocean evaporation. Colder than normal air would result in more evaporation, most of which would end up as increased cloud and rain over western Europe.

    This explains why western Europe was disproportionately affected by the YWAS and the apparent episodic nature of the cool wet weather.

    Otherwise, while volcanic aerosols do cause cooling, how much, where, and for how long is poorly understood. The climate models over-estimate volcanic cooling by a factor of 2 or 3 and perhaps the duration by a similar amount.

  162. I love the smell of economic history in the morning!

    Willis is right to point out that widespread crop failures would have affected prices very quickly. Futures markets have always existed for widely traded commodities such as grain crops, in the sense that as soon as it became apparent that a shortage of, say, barley was in the offing, prices would rise. That information would be available well before the harvest date in most cases.

    So, if the UK summer of 1816 was uniformly disastrous for grain crops, the price indices would have risen sharply well before year’s end, and continued into the following year. But they didn’t.

  163. berniel says:
    April 15, 2012 at 9:25 pm

    …sorry to come to this discussion so late and notice only one mention of the Manley’s Central England Temperature record (1953, 1974).

    Commenter ‘mfo’ above refers us to one of the longest — and oft regarded the most accurate — thermometer-based record around. On page 402 you see this graph:

    http://enthusiasmscepticismscience.wordpress.com/global-temperature-graphs/1973-manley-central-england-temp-record/

    Look especially at the Summer line and you will see a significant dip in the running 10 year average just before 1820. This can be confirmed in the data. Other years seem to have either a slow start or early end to the summer. But for 1816 the average temperature across June, July, August and September remains low. But still not really cold…not at all like winter….and not much like autumn either.

    Thanks, berniel. From the graph in your citation of the Central England Temperature series …

    I’m sorry, but I’m just not buying that in England the average temperatures in the summer of 1816 were unusual. Look how many summers were colder than the summer of 1816, literally dozens and dozens of colder summers in the CET record. Volcanoes are supposed to reduce the temperature globally. It didn’t happen in England.

    Now, you can point out that crops fail for other reasons, too much rain, too little rain, whatever. Heck, I know that, I’m a country boy.

    But the volcano is supposed to cause cold, not rain. That was the claim that I was investigating, that somehow the volcanoes were capable of causing the volcanic equivalent of “nuclear winter” by cooling the planet … and I don’t see that at all in the CET record that you recommend.

    w.

  164. Willis,
    Thanks for a posting which has generated a fascinating discussion. It’s what I come to WUWT for.

    Sandy Sinclair

  165. I am in Pr. George, BC. Last year our average rainfall for july and august was normal, the temperatures were normal. But it rained too much to get our hay off without a huge struggle, it was cold, the hay took forever to dry. This was a widespread problem.
    I think the average rainfall did not take into account the localized thunderstorms and the amount of precipitation involved. Also, daily max and mins dont sum up the amount of sun, the length of time it was warm that day, on a cold summer day like last year, it may only be warm for a couple of hours instead of in a hot summer where it could be hot for 14 hours.
    Just looking at the data for last summer did not accurately depict the weather. Everyone says that they are hoping for a summer this year, yet according to environment canada we did have a normal one last year.
    So, the weather charts for 1815/1816 may be accurate, but not actually depict the conditions experienced.
    Just something to think about.

  166. Willis — Here’s a link to a discussion of the Summer of 1816 in Northern New England. Some things to consider: http://www.islandnet.com/~see/weather/history/1816.htm

    1. 1816 was one of a series of quite cold years.
    2. The growing season in Northern New England is short even today. SIgnificant snowfalls in May happen from time to time (e.g. 15 inches in the mountain passes on May 19, 2008). As do frosts in early September.
    3. In the early 19th century, farmers were working land considerably higher up in the mountains than today. (There’s a reason that dairy is popular in Vermont. Grass and cows can tolerate a little cold).

    Bottom line: It didn’t take a lot of cold to cause crops to fail in 1816 because it really was a cold year, and marginal land was being farmed.

    (BTW, I’ve always thought it interesting that the last Frost Fair on the frozen Thames at London was held in 1814 — a year before the Tambora eruption)

  167. Dr Dave says: “I find your response unnecessarily insolent in tone. My doctorate is certainly NOT in climate science. It is in the mundane field of human health. Perhaps you do not understand the difference between “link”, “correlation” and “causation”. I specifically wrote link.”

    You find my comment “insolent”. You seem like many doctors of medicine to have a high opinion of yourself and find it “isolent” if anyone else questions you (even when you have no knowledge of their training or competence).

    I am very aware of the difference between correlation and causation and was criticising your acclaimed “link in my mind” comment.

    If you *meant* “link but not causation or correlation” perhaps you should have said so in the post rather than when I’d pulled you up on your sloppy comment.

    Since you now point out that “link” really means nothing and is used by lawyers to deceive a jury what was the aim of the comment you posted?

  168. Obviously commodity prices are affected by more than the climate, a little local difficulty like the Napoleonic wars can have some influence….

    But for those with a thirst for more data, and with a global span of many commodities try this link

    http://www.gcpdb.info/index.html

  169. Lessons from history seem short lived as stockpiling of food for a rainy day would appear to have vanished. Volcanoes or not our food supplies are not so much effected by climate as by weather.

    One wide spread frost or a period of heavy rain at the wrong time and millions of tons of food can be destroyed. Weather is the reason we can grow food. Beautiful blue skies at 85F are wonderful days, if you have them every day you can not grow food. Food production is at the behest of the weathers gods.

    Climate is not ours to control, it is almostly entirely outside influences that give our planet climate, it is the reaction to these influences that give us weather, as the planet chases its tail trying to find equalibrium.

    We have three designated climate zones, hot, medium and cold these three zones are not fixed in stone and can move around a bit with changing influences and so the weather patterns can change. Fortunately we have vast oceans that are our heat bank, that store heat in the good times [governments do not control that] so we have some heat for the bad times. The recent increase in thermal capacity of the oceans will be rather welcome in the coming decades as the sun has its predicted holiday. Our planet may seem incomprehensible in its complications, like not seeing the forest for the trees, but overarching simplistic systems control our climate, whilst we live and try to understand climate chaos.

  170. Apart from 1976, in my 65 years of experience, every year in the UK is a year without a summer!

  171. Obviously! I love this theory. I love it so much that I will ignore that it would predict that day and night should be the same temperature. It’s a winner!

  172. I agree that the effects are regional, as India was affected in its region’s from the ENSO cycle before the Brits build train lines. Before you had hunger and death here or there and at the same time surplus food there and here, but no way to transport or trade it to better priced markets.

    The effect should be regional lack of food, hunger, sickness and death for areas with no trade infrastructure with other region’s.
    Region’s with ship trade and later train trade region’s would have been less affected by radical food price changes hunger, sickness and death?

  173. Kelvin Vaughan says:
    April 16, 2012 at 4:37 am

    >> Apart from 1976, in my 65 years of experience, every year in the UK is a year without a summer!

    What a ridiculous statement. The summer in the UK usually starts in the middle of May. It lasts for about 2 weeks. ;)

    You are correct about ’76 though. That was the only year sub-polar countries would count as a real summer. I remember waited through about ten years of disappointment then realised, packed my bags a when to the antipodes.

    The misguided fools think they have to “lead the world” in reducing global warming, they could use some.

  174. Old woman of the north says:
    April 15, 2012 at 7:20 pm

    I may have missed something in all this long posting but at the time of the Tambora eruption what was the sun doing? The past few years have seen low solar activity and there has also been cooler summer maximums for the past few years so, although the volcanism probably did have some effect on weather it may have been allied to the low solar activity as seems to have been the case for the past couple of years.

    Some people have identified solar cycles of approximately 100 and 200 years, with manifestations of cooler weather early in the 20th century. The cool period early in the 19th century is in sync with the Dalton Minimum.

    While some people see a link between periods of low solar activity and volcanic activity, I’m not convinced that explains the low temperatures – Tambora was such a huge eruption that it should swamp the effect of all the other volcanoes of that period. Of course, Willis is pointing out that there is little sign of cooling in the temperature record, so perhaps there’s more to measuring weather and climate than just temperature.

    Given the steady decline in sunspot magnetic fields that Livingston and Penn are tracking, I’m expecting this period to become a named minimum. The next couple of decades will be interesting.

  175. Willis Eschenbach says:
    April 15, 2012 at 12:33 pm
    Neither humans, animals, nor plants relate or respond to average temperature. Averages are a mathematical construct with no reality. We relate and respond to actual temperatures. So I’ve used actual temperatures.
    ____________________________

    You’re mixing up average temperatures and temperature anomalies. People don’t just say ‘oh, this spring is so much warmer than the winter was’, they also say ‘oh, this spring is so much warmer than any other spring I remember’. Of course such observation is not scientific if it’s not backed up by recorded temperatures and other facts but it’s I believe sufficient proof even non-scientist humans can and regularly do perform anomaly evaluation. And so do plants and animals if the actual temperature and other environmental factors differ largely from the state they are used to at that particular period of the year. Warm spring leads to plants blooming way earlier even if you wouldn’t spot any difference on the temperature graph because spring just happens to lie on the steepest part of the temperature slope.
    You’re just looking for excuses for not using temperature anomalies in the place where they actually may be useful. If you want to play fair, show us both. If you don’t, you don’t play fair.

  176. Allan MacRae says:
    April 15, 2012 at 9:31 pm

    Then the Americans thought they would have an easier time with the Quebecois, so invaded via Lake Champlain and the Richelieu River. The crafty Quebecois challenged them to a hockey game, and then dropped their gloves before the opening face-off and beat the crap out of the unsuspecting Yanks. It`s been a cherished Canadian hockey tradition ever since.

    I’m the direct beneficiary of the colonies’ invasion of Quebec. Every so often Quebec City (the most European city in North America) holds a major reenactment, and when my wife an I were part of a New Hampshire group we attended one (2004, it appears). Camping (for free) on the Plains of Abraham in walking distance of a restaurant that served wonderful crepes, parading through the old city, running around with a cannon crew, great weekend.

    The reenactment is really more show than history, as the Battle of the Plains of Abraham was between the French and British. BTW, even modern musket replicas are allowed through customs without jump through hoops. They fall under the antiques are okay clause.

    Hmm, I see the 2009 reenactment was canceled due to a dispute a with the Québécois. Something about a reminder that the Brits won that battle. Hey guys, that was the 250th anniversary. I guess some skin stays thin.

    Personally, I think victory by the Quebec sovereigntists would have made for some really good entertainment. I bet the Toronto newspaper headline would have said “Good riddance.”

  177. Given the steady decline in sunspot magnetic fields that Livingston and Penn are tracking, I’m expecting this period to become a named minimum. The next couple of decades will be interesting.

    Damn right. And whatever the cause, watching the modulation of the albedo is already interesting. A 7% increase over 15 years, if sustained, corresponds to a long term drop of global average temperature of around 2 K. If that happened around the LIA Maunder minimum and the Dalton minimum, it would certainly explain a lot.

    Willis is right, of course — as a mostly/locally stable climate system with a huge thermal ballast in its oceans, the Earth tends to “resist” changes on less than a decadal (over multiple solar cycles, basically) and local climate varies strongly with e.g. the decadal oscillations on top of that making it difficult to resolve secular trends in temperature — but still it is difficult to argue with the probable effect of reflecting 2% more sunlight — 27 or so watts per square meter — before it reaches the ground at all.

    If climate scientists had any sense at all, they would all be establishing an “albedo watch” because this is gravely concerning. Yes, global albedo peaked in the 1980s and early 1990s (possibly coincident with the 20th century grand solar maximum, possibly coincidentally). Yes, it plunged along with the solar cycle, again, possibly coincidentally as none of the various proposed solar-albedo couples are proven and this could be completely spurious. But the variation of the albedo itself by whatever mechanism is a fact, and it is a fact that we should all find very worrisome indeed. And if and when we take our gaze away from our own carbon-based navels, perhaps we will…

    rgb

  178. You may find a just published paper on this topic interesting: ” Extreme climate, not extreme weather: the summer of 1816 in Geneva, Switzerland”, by Renate Auchmann and colleagues.

    http://www.clim-past.net/8/325/2012/cp-8-325-2012.html

    It states that the weather was very cloudy, which makes the perceived temperature lower. Thus maybe both the people and the measurements are right.

  179. Yes Rick – I recall the cancellation of the 2009 re-enactment of the Battle of the Plains of Abraham – perhaps we should have let the French win this time. :-)

    It is worthwhile to examine Quebec history in the context of this controversy. Like the global warming scam, the Quebec separatist movement is largely based on the BIG LIE.

    For 40 years, Canada and Quebec have been held hostage by separatists, who have spread many falsehoods, including the alleged cruelty of living “under the British boot”.

    In fact, France was a poor and uncaring administrator, and Quebec habitants were much better off and thrived under British rule.

    Here is some of the evidence:

    In the ~160 years to 1763 under French rule, Quebec population grew by only about 1 person per day.

    In the 60 years of British rule from 1784 to 1844, Quebec population grew by about 26 people per day.

    Quebec population growth shows two distinct linear trends, with a steep upward shift after commencement of British rule.

    In 1765 Quebec’s population was 69,810. By 1844 it was ten times higher, at 697,084. This impressive growth rate certainly does not indicate that the habitants were badly treated.

    Several generations of Canadians, ESPECIALLY the Quebecois, have had their lives and careers emotionally and economically blighted by Quebec separatism.

    It is apparent that the alleged grievances of separatists are, to a large extent, based on falsehoods.

    It is long past time to move on, and leave this foolishness in the dust.

    **************************************

    Source of population data: Quebec Yearbook, 1970, p. 137

    http://faculty.marianopolis.edu/c.belanger/quebechistory/stats/pop05-44.htm

  180. Rick werme said
    “Given the steady decline in sunspot magnetic fields that Livingston and Penn are tracking, I’m expecting this period to become a named minimum. The next couple of decades will be interesting.”

    The problem is that the data(historic and today’s) is getting more and more UNFCCC conform. Because the reality(historic and today’s) is not. So they will probably make it a maximum?

  181. Willis, you couldn’t find it so it doesn’t exist? Really? Take a look at this site:

    http://www.zamg.ac.at/histalp/content/view/35/1/index.html

    You can find the timeseries of summertemperatures for a lot of stations around the alps (like Bologna, Milano, Hohenpeißenberg…). You will find the “year without summer” in quite a lot of stations. For example Geneve:

    Nearly as interesting are the air pressure series:

  182. Thanks to David Archibald for referencing the publication of proceedings of our Ottawa conference on Tambora and 1816 titled, “The Year Without a Summer? World Climate in 1816″.

    A major issue in planning the conference was the relationship between the Dalton Minimum and the volcano. We invited John Eddy as the keynote presenter because he was giving publicity to the idea of sunspots and temperature and we were interested in the impact of a volcanic eruption when global temperatures were declining. How much impact would Tambora have had if global temperatures were increasing?

    We were also interested in the extent of impact so we organized a workshop in which researchers from all over the world brought data on temperature and precipitation in their region. We plotted these on a world map, which is included in a pocket at the back of the publication.

    The map and information discussed in the workshop and published in the book clearly indicate extreme meridional flow with blocking that resulted in extremes of temperature and precitipitation as well as dramatic changes in areas of arctic ice. I discussed the latter in this article

    http://drtimball.com/2011/another-climate-change-scare-is-on-thin-ice/

    because it was Cynthia Wilson who produced the Royal Society/Admiralty story at our Tambora conference.

    However, there were large areas of ‘normal’ weather. The region I examined was central Canada and it was a transitional zone between the extreme cold of easter North America and the normal pattern in the west. It is naive to assume that a change due to a forcing is detectable over the entire globe. This is especially true for precipitation. It is also naive to assume that only temperature and precipitation have an impact on plants and thereby agriculture yields.

    For example, in the impact of volcanoes on weather and crop production one factor overlooked is decrease in yellow light by the sulphur dust forming water droplets (sulphuric acid), which is critical to crop growth, especially in the ripening phase. A similar impact was evident after Pinatubo. it was like trying to grow a crop under a normal neon light. You need one with added yellow light if you are going to grow plants. I wrote about this in a 1993 article available here (#3).

    http://drtimball.com/_files/volcanoes001.pdf

  183. Tim Ball says:
    April 16, 2012 at 9:04 am
    Tim, I felt bad in not mentioning your patrinomy as the source of the recommendation. At under $10/kg for high level science, it is a great book.

  184. Kasuha says:
    April 16, 2012 at 5:46 am

    Willis Eschenbach says:
    April 15, 2012 at 12:33 pm

    Neither humans, animals, nor plants relate or respond to average temperature. Averages are a mathematical construct with no reality. We relate and respond to actual temperatures. So I’ve used actual temperatures.
    ____________________________

    You’re mixing up average temperatures and temperature anomalies. People don’t just say ‘oh, this spring is so much warmer than the winter was’, they also say ‘oh, this spring is so much warmer than any other spring I remember’. Of course such observation is not scientific if it’s not backed up by recorded temperatures and other facts but it’s I believe sufficient proof even non-scientist humans can and regularly do perform anomaly evaluation. And so do plants and animals if the actual temperature and other environmental factors differ largely from the state they are used to at that particular period of the year.

    Yes, humans can perform “anomaly evaluations”. But you are arguing against a straw man. I said we don’t respond to average temperatures, not that we can’t perform anomaly evaluation. For example, the average temperature of the earth has gone up a half a degree in my lifetime. We can evaluate that anomaly. But we can’t respond to it, heck, we can’t even sense it. Why?

    Because an average is not real. It cannot be sensed. It cannot be felt. It is a mental construct.

    In any case, your claim is that plants and animals can also perform “anomaly evaluations”, saying “this summer is really warm, must be AGW” or something?

    I doubt that greatly, Kasuha. I can believe they experience “I’m hot” and “I’m cold”, sure, every creature senses the temperature. But plants and animals aren’t thinking “this spring is warmer than average”, that’s not happening. A plant is aware of what the temperature is now.

    w.

  185. Don says:
    April 16, 2012 at 4:47 am

    Obviously! I love this theory. I love it so much that I will ignore that it would predict that day and night should be the same temperature. It’s a winner!

    What on earth are you talking about? That makes no sense at all.

    w.

  186. rgbatduke says:
    April 16, 2012 at 6:09 am

    … If climate scientists had any sense at all, they would all be establishing an “albedo watch” because this is gravely concerning. Yes, global albedo peaked in the 1980s and early 1990s (possibly coincident with the 20th century grand solar maximum, possibly coincidentally). Yes, it plunged along with the solar cycle, again, possibly coincidentally as none of the various proposed solar-albedo couples are proven and this could be completely spurious.

    Thanks, Robert. I have shown how the sun is coupled to the albedo, through the “warmer = cloudier” relationship in the tropics. Here’s a graphic demonstrating it beyond doubt:

    This shows the albedo in August (NH summer) and February (SH summer). You can see that when the sun goes north of the equator, the albedo follows, and when the sun goes south, the albedo goes south. Since it is clear that the albedo is not making the sun move north and south …

    Not sure why this would even be in question, but some folks seem to think that it is …

    w.

  187. Joel Heinrich says:
    April 16, 2012 at 7:54 am

    Willis, you couldn’t find it so it doesn’t exist? Really?

    Oh, please. I’ve taken a very nuanced view of this question. I’ve stated that the Tambora volcano seems to have had effects, but they were both local (parts of Europe and North America) and short-lived (one summer).

    Now you want to twist that into your fanciful, simplistic, and false claim that I said “it doesn’t exist”?

    Learn to read.

    w.

  188. Tim Ball says:
    April 16, 2012 at 9:04 am

    I wrote about this in a 1993 article available here (#3).

    http://drtimball.com/_files/volcanoes001.pdf

    Dr. Tim, thanks for your reference to your article on volcanoes. Regarding the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo, you say in that article:

    Farmers across Canada know the effect that had during the summer of 1992.

    Presumably you must mean that there was a reduction in the Canadian crop yield in 1992 … but I find no evidence of such a reduction in any of the Canadia crops. Here’s the FAO data on the subject:

    As you note, not one of the crop groups suffered any kind of significant decline in yield, and in fact, for three out of five of the groups, the yield was better in 1992 than in the previous year, and for three of the five groups the yield was better in 1992 than in the following year.

    Just what “effect” are you referring to from Pinatubo, and what kind of Canadian farmers were affected?

    To me, this is a recurring problem with volcano research. Everyone has lurid tales of what happened, but when I look at the data, far too many times I don’t find the effects that would necessarily flow from the claims of the proponents.

    w.

  189. Willis

    Just in case you might be thinking of doing any sort of follow up on the effects of volcanos you might be interested to know that in the UK we were treated to daily updates from the Met office in the shape of maps accompanying the weather forecast on the TV news in connection with the 2010 icelandic dust cloud, and specfically in connnection with flights

    http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/news/releases/latest/volcano

    The interesting thing was how much the computer model scenarios changed day by day and how some parts of Britain were affected whilst others werent. Translate that to a bigger eruption affecting sunlight and it would be easy to see how some parts of the country would be very badly affected leaving other parts totally unaffected and the following week it could be all change. As I said previously, it all comes down to wind patterns I suspect.

    Eventually one of the Budget airlines who were fed up with their planes being continally cancelled forced the Govts hand by deliberately flying a plane into the ‘affected’ ash cloud area and found nothing at all there, which started a big row as to the accuracy of Met office computer models.

    I suspect other countries must have had similar maps and you might feel it worth seeing if there is any relation between reality and computer models as regards the effects of ash on our climate using them as a template.
    all the best
    tonyb

  190. climatereason says:
    April 16, 2012 at 11:03 am

    Willis

    Just in case you might be thinking of doing any sort of follow up on the effects of volcanos you might be interested to know that in the UK we were treated to daily updates from the Met office in the shape of maps accompanying the weather forecast on the TV news in connection with the 2010 icelandic dust cloud, and specfically in connnection with flights

    http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/news/releases/latest/volcano

    The interesting thing was how much the computer model scenarios changed day by day and how some parts of Britain were affected whilst others werent. Translate that to a bigger eruption affecting sunlight and it would be easy to see how some parts of the country would be very badly affected leaving other parts totally unaffected and the following week it could be all change. As I said previously, it all comes down to wind patterns I suspect.

    Thanks, Tony. I followed that debacle as it went on, and I was amused to see the computers having a hard time with it … which was surprising since it is generally accepted that the same computers can tell us the climate a century from now …

    Regarding the effect of the wind, that is true for a nearby ongoing volcano. For a distant single eruption, however, the SO4 is distributed widely once it reaches the stratosphere, so the surface wind is less important.

    w.

  191. Tim Ball

    I wrote about the melting Arctic ice around 1817-1860 in my 2009 article carried here, which also referenced the Admiralty report.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/06/20/historic-variation-in-arctic-ice/

    It was interesting this melting occured even though temperatures generally were declining at the time and despite (because of?) Tambora, but I traced the records of Whalers from my home port on the English South Coast and they had commented that the sea ice was declining some 20 years previously. However, due to a little local difficulty with some troublesome North Americans at the time, the Royal Navy didnt have the ships to investigate. Enough ships became available to mount an expedition once Napoleon was dealt with . The First great Arctic scientist-who I reference in the article- William Scoresby, is buried not 10 miles away from my home.

    tonyb

  192. Willis

    I was thinking more of the jet stream than ordinary winds which I suspect have a greater influence on our climate than we are yet aware of, but your comment on SO4 distribution probably applies to the Jet stream also.

    As regards the Met office computing ability, my wife has an Iphone with a met office app that displays our local weather. She was quite thrilled to see the self same logo app on the Met Office entrance sign as we went to visit the library at their HQ near Exeter-only 15 miles from where we live.

    Even she has to admit that even though they are so close the Met Office app is rarely right (except when the weather is settled) which surely illustrates that ;

    a) The effects of micro climates are little understood
    b) Their forecasting ability is limited for even the next few days
    c) It is hilarious that anyone should believe they have the ability to forecacast 100 years in the future.
    d) Unfortuately, that ‘anyone’ includes our government who, on the strength of their advice, seem determined to bankrupt the country through the imposition of green taxes and an unhealthy obsession with wind power.
    tonyb

  193. The Brits stockpiled some grain, but they stockpiled it in France. I can’t find any evidence that they brought it back to the UK.

    Willis
    That is worth a good laugh.

    state of the Franco-British ‘entente cordiale’ in 1812

  194. Is that last graph adjusted for inflation or deflation, since it’s not an absolute price graph but a percent of change from 1810 graph? Just one of the things to be careful of when using percentages instead of actual numbers. Percentages are too often used to present the picture the graph maker wants to present instead of what the real numbers would show.

    I’d like to see the same graph with actual prices of the day, a third graph with all prices adjusted to 1810 normal and a fourth adjusted to 1820 normal.

    Then one can get a view of how the real prices changed over time.

  195. There were at least 90 major eruptions in the Little Ice Age –

    “Whenever SOLAR RADIATION has DECREASED and VOCANIC ACTIVITY has INCREASED, global temperatures SUDDENLY PLUMMET, often within weeks or months.”

    http://www.longrangeweather.com/global_temperatures.htm

    From (600 B.C. to 2000 A.D.) : http://www.longrangeweather.com/Long-Range-Weather-Trends.htm

    “The information on this website shows weather and historical trends from approximately 600 B.C. to the present day. Much of this data was put together by the Weather Science Foundation in Illinois back in the early to mid 1970s. At one time, over 60 people were employed to gather worldwide data.

    Unfortunately, funding for this project evaporated and the Weather Science Foundation shut down its operation. However, some of this unique information was given to Climatologist Cliff Harris. By an agreement, Cliff did not use or publish any of this information for 30 years.”

  196. Concerning the British agricultural prices of the time:

    While people are arguing about quick market reactions and such nearly 200 years hence, I found a contemporaneous account:

    On the depressed state of agriculture
    James Cleghorn, Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland, Edinburgh
    A. Constable and Co., 1822

    Google Books, free download, click on “EBOOK-FREE” and select pdf or another choice.
    Link.

    From the pages I have looked at, it’s an interesting accounting of market manipulation with information on imports, exports, warehousing to control market prices, etc. An ebook has now made me wish I had the paper version in my hands. Fascinating.

    The following are manual transcriptions:

    pg 77-8:
    “The very bad season of 1816 having opened the ports, very large imports were made till February 1819, when the ports finally closed against wheat, and have never been opened since.”

    pg 79:
    “But it is to be considered, that like crops 1799 and 1800, crops 1816 and 1817 were greatly deficient, particularly the former, which is said not to yield more than about 12 bushels the acre, in the best corn district in Scotland, where the average produce is about 30 bushels.”

    pg 80:
    “If, on the other hand, as there can be no doubt was the fact, only a small proportion of this foreign grain was not disposed of before the ports shut in February 1819, its effect in reducing prices must have been chiefly confined to those of the years 1817 and 1818, that is to say, to the prices of the two very inferior crops 1816 and 1817, which then came into consumption. We are told that these large importations displaced an equal quantity of British wheat, as if the produce of 1816 and 1817 had been a full average produce; whereas the fact is, they were required to supply its deficiency. They could not displace or supersede what had no existence.”

    1816 had a lousy harvest. 1817 wasn’t great either. Here is the proof, from an observer at the time. Prices alone will not show this due to market manipulations at the time.

  197. Galane says:
    April 16, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    Is that last graph adjusted for inflation or deflation, since it’s not an absolute price graph but a percent of change from 1810 graph? Just one of the things to be careful of when using percentages instead of actual numbers. Percentages are too often used to present the picture the graph maker wants to present instead of what the real numbers would show.

    I’d like to see the same graph with actual prices of the day, a third graph with all prices adjusted to 1810 normal and a fourth adjusted to 1820 normal.

    Then one can get a view of how the real prices changed over time.

    Back in the day when money was backed by metal (silver in the case of the pound) rapid inflation was less likely. So I doubt greatly that there was a big change in the value of the British pound from 1810 to 1820, although I’ve been surprised before … let me look …

    OK, in constant pounds, one pound in 1810 was worth 1.05 pounds in 1816, a slight deflation, and was worth 1.01 pounds in 1820. So the chart is valid as it stands within a few percent.

    w.

  198. Myrrh says:
    April 16, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    There were at least 90 major eruptions in the Little Ice Age –

    “Whenever SOLAR RADIATION has DECREASED and VOCANIC ACTIVITY has INCREASED, global temperatures SUDDENLY PLUMMET, often within weeks or months.”

    http://www.longrangeweather.com/global_temperatures.htm

    Myrrh, this citation reminds me why I very rarely answer your posts, because they are usually full of CAPITAL LETTERS and FALSE INFORMATION.

    First, global temperatures don’t “SUDDENLY PLUMMET” when a volcano goes off, that’s alarmist nonsense. See my posts here, here, here, and here for a host of citations and evidence that shows that the effects of volcanos have been greatly over-rated.

    Second, no way there were “90 major eruptions” in the Little Ice Age. Your reference shows the LIA lasting from 1350 to 1850, which is odd in itself, but never mind. A major eruption is often taken as one with a “VEI”, or volcanic explosive index, of 5 or more. Wikipedia has a list of “large volcanic eruptions”, VEI of 5 or more. There are exactly nine eruptions on that list during the Little Ice Age.

    Let me give you the advice I gave you before, which is, read and learn, and think very hard before posting. Claiming things like “90 major eruptions in the Little Ice Age” just makes people point and laugh. Your posts are so bad I usually just skip over them, or simply read them, laugh a bit and move on … and I doubt that’s the effect you are looking for.

    Do your homework first, look for opposing opinions, find actual sources for your facts, and then post …

    w.

  199. Observation from NZ. The Pinatubo eruption caused little temperature change here, but that change was sufficient on Mt Ruapehu to give magnificent snow dumps from 1992 to 1994. Ruapehu receives most weather from the northwest, which is normally above freezing and falls as rain. During the Pinatubo years the temperature dropped sufficiently for it to fall as snow, giving metres of extra snow. Legendary years for skiers!
    > Small temperature change but enormous observed difference in effect.
    Beth

  200. kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:
    April 16, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    Concerning the British agricultural prices of the time:

    While people are arguing about quick market reactions and such nearly 200 years hence, I found a contemporaneous account:

    On the depressed state of agriculture
    James Cleghorn, Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland, Edinburgh
    A. Constable and Co., 1822

    Fascinating stuff, KD. My only comment is that switching from British grain to imported grain would raise the price, as it has to be trans-shipped from somewhere else, and that never happens for free.

    A clear description of the happenings, though, makes me want to read more … and learn more … and live forever … and …

    w.

  201. Willis Eschenbach says:
    April 16, 2012 at 4:15 pm
    Myrrh says:
    April 16, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    There were at least 90 major eruptions in the Little Ice Age –

    “Whenever SOLAR RADIATION has DECREASED and VOCANIC ACTIVITY has INCREASED, global temperatures SUDDENLY PLUMMET, often within weeks or months.”

    http://www.longrangeweather.com/global_temperatures.htm

    Myrrh, this citation reminds me why I very rarely answer your posts, because they are usually full of CAPITAL LETTERS and FALSE INFORMATION.

    That was a quote, as written, their emphasis, I respected that and copied it. Perhaps you missed the quotation marks, or perhaps didn’t bother looking at the page properly? But then, we’ve had this before, you misquoting me in a discussion where you were yelling at others for misquoting you.. Still, as they say, hope springs eternal – perhaps this time I’ll get an apology.

    First, global temperatures don’t “SUDDENLY PLUMMET” when a volcano goes off, that’s alarmist nonsense. See my posts here, here, here, and here for a host of citations and evidence that shows that the effects of volcanos have been greatly over-rated.

    Well, I’ve looked at the first two links, you’re talking about Pinatubo in 1991. What I quoted clearly says, their emphasis remember, they’re not shouting, nor am I..:

    “Whenever SOLAR RADIATION has DECREASED and VOCANIC ACTIVITY has INCREASED, global temperatures SUDDENLY PLUMMET, often within weeks or months.”

    So, your links irrelevant – unless you have something specifically relating to, what I thought, an interesting body of work generally, but in particular this emphasised point; in which case, go fetch.

    From which: “From the late 1940s through the early 1970s, a climate research organization called the Weather Science Foundation of Crystal Lake, Illinois, determined that the planet’s warm, cold, wet and dry periods were the result of alternating short-term and long-term climatic cycles. These researchers and scientists also concluded that the Earth’s ever-changing climate likewise has influenced global and regional economies, human and animal migrations, science, religion and the arts as well as shifting forms of government and strength of leadership.

    Much of this data was based upon thousands of hours of research done by Dr. Raymond H. Wheeler and his associates during the 1930s and 1940s at the University of Kansas. Dr. Wheeler was well-known for his discovery of various climate cycles, including his highly-regarded ‘510-Year Drought Clock’ that he detailed at the end of the ‘Dust Bowl’ era in the late 1930s.”

    So, it certainly looks like a huge amount of work went into producing this summary, and its conclusion, and, I also thought it very interesting that it was embargoed for 30 years. Your mileage may vary.

    Second, no way there were “90 major eruptions” in the Little Ice Age. Your reference shows the LIA lasting from 1350 to 1850, which is odd in itself, but never mind. A major eruption is often taken as one with a “VEI”, or volcanic explosive index, of 5 or more. Wikipedia has a list of “large volcanic eruptions”, VEI of 5 or more. There are exactly nine eruptions on that list during the Little Ice Age.

    Huh? Now you’re giving me wiki as reliable after saying above, and I quote you accurately:

    “So as usual, Wikipedia is a source of urban legends, and you should have stuck with hating to direct anyone there …”

    Do you ever listen to yourself?

    I’ve just posted information on an amazing body of work, which I have no reason to suppose is not accurate to the best of its knowledge in its counting of major volcanic eruptions globally.

    The other page I linked to had this to say: ““The information on this website shows weather and historical trends from approximately 600 B.C. to the present day. Much of this data was put together by the Weather Science Foundation in Illinois back in the early to mid 1970s. At one time, over 60 people were employed to gather worldwide data.”

    As to their dates for the LIA, what’s your problem with it?

    Let me give you the advice I gave you before, which is, read and learn, and think very hard before posting. Claiming things like “90 major eruptions in the Little Ice Age” just makes people point and laugh. Your posts are so bad I usually just skip over them, or simply read them, laugh a bit and move on … and I doubt that’s the effect you are looking for.

    I think those reading here know what they think and if that’s what they’re doing then they like you haven’t bothered to read what I’ve posted. My point to you earlier, which I assume you didn’t take in either, was that your analysis using temperature is superficial because it doesn’t take in observation from the vast body, if somewhat scattered, historic records that we have nor does it take into account the vagaries of farming etc., as others have pointed out. You certainly don’t show any appreciation of what it means to be affected by such events as mass starvation, widespread sickness and migration, which is why we do get our historic information from contemporary accounts – because these are noteworthy.

    Do your homework first, look for opposing opinions,

    Don’t tell me how to enter discussions, certainly not when you’re unwilling to consider doing the same and instead reply with sarcastic irrelevancies and ad homs because, shrug, whatever..

    find actual sources for your facts, and then post …

    I gave you my source. I linked to it. I gave a summary description of it. Why not try reading it?

  202. pg 80:
    “If, on the other hand, as there can be no doubt was the fact, only a small proportion of this foreign grain was not disposed of before the ports shut in February 1819, its effect in reducing prices must have been chiefly confined to those of the years 1817 and 1818, that is to say, to the prices of the two very inferior crops 1816 and 1817, which then came into consumption. We are told that these large importations displaced an equal quantity of British wheat, as if the produce of 1816 and 1817 had been a full average produce; whereas the fact is, they were required to supply its deficiency. They could not displace or supersede what had no existence.”

    Curious. Other accounts say there was no importation of corn at all during these years due to the Corn Laws enacted in 1815.

    Here is one by Frederick Engel himself.

    http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1845/09/30.htm

  203. Beth Burdett says:
    April 16, 2012 at 4:45 pm (Edit)

    Observation from NZ. The Pinatubo eruption caused little temperature change here, but that change was sufficient on Mt Ruapehu to give magnificent snow dumps from 1992 to 1994. Ruapehu receives most weather from the northwest, which is normally above freezing and falls as rain. During the Pinatubo years the temperature dropped sufficiently for it to fall as snow, giving metres of extra snow. Legendary years for skiers!

    Thanks, Beth. And if there had been a volcanic eruption in 2007, I suppose you’d be giving it credit for the following from 2008 …

    Ruapehu Alpine Lifts (RAL), operator of Mt Ruapehu ski area, is celebrating a major milestone today with Turoa experiencing the biggest snow base ever recorded at any New Zealand ski area.

    The snow measuring stake at Turoa previously only stood at 380cm so had to be extended to measure today’s amazing 455cm snow base.

    The Whakapapa side of the Mountain also has a fantastic base, with 350cm of snow, the biggest since 1995.

    I’m sure you see the problem, which is that correlation definitely is not causation. Perhaps Pinatubo brought snow, but then what brought snow in 2008, biggest snow base ever? And how do you know that the same phenomenon wasn’t responsible for the 1992-1994 snow?

    Finally, the sulfate from the volcanoes doesn’t stay in the atmosphere very long. Pinatubo might, and I emphasize might, be a factor in increased snow in 1992 … but by the end of 1993 the aerosols were back to their pre-Pinatubo levels.

    All the best,

    w.

  204. Myrrh says:
    April 16, 2012 at 5:32 pm

    Willis Eschenbach says:
    April 16, 2012 at 4:15 pm

    Myrrh says:
    April 16, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    There were at least 90 major eruptions in the Little Ice Age –

    “Whenever SOLAR RADIATION has DECREASED and VOCANIC ACTIVITY has INCREASED, global temperatures SUDDENLY PLUMMET, often within weeks or months.”

    http://www.longrangeweather.com/global_temperatures.htm

    Myrrh, this citation reminds me why I very rarely answer your posts, because they are usually full of CAPITAL LETTERS and FALSE INFORMATION.

    That was a quote, as written, their emphasis, I respected that and copied it. Perhaps you missed the quotation marks, or perhaps didn’t bother looking at the page properly? But then, we’ve had this before, you misquoting me in a discussion where you were yelling at others for misquoting you.. Still, as they say, hope springs eternal – perhaps this time I’ll get an apology.

    Of course it’s a quote, Myrrh, I did read the page you got it from. I did not think it was your words, so you’ve misunderstood me, perhaps my writing wasn’t clear.

    My point was that if you’re foolish enough to quote someone who likes CAPITAL LETTERS and FALSE INFORMATION, without making sure that they have their facts straight, that’s on you, not them. I wasn’t talking about what you said, but about the quality of your citations. You don’t seem to have the sense to realize that things with CAPITAL LETTERS are more likely to be bogus, especially when their citation says:

    Global temperature chart was complied by Climatologist Cliff Harris that combined the following resources:
    “Climate and the Affairs of Men” by Dr. Iben Browing.
    “Climate…The Key to Understanding Business Cycles…The Raymond H. Wheeler Papers. By Michael Zahorchak
    Weather Science Foundation Papers in Crystal Lake, Illinois.

    Whoa … impressive … “Climate and the Affairs of Men”, and they can’t even spell the author’s name correctly (it’s “Browning”). Browning is famous, but not for climate. In August 1990, he famously said “There’s probably a 50-50 chance of Richter 7 plus earthquake on the New Madrid Fault on or around the evening of December 2nd or the morning of December 3rd.” He based his prediction on “peak gravitational pressure on the earth’s crust from the moon and planets “. I’m sure you know how that turned out …

    His earthquake skills were obviously just as good as his climate skills … because the book they refer to, “Climate and the Affairs of Men”, was published in 1975, and forecast a coming period of global cooling. Oh, yeah, his doctorate is in Zoology.

    And Michael Zahorchak? You can buy his book on climate cycles, they have it at the astrology store, eight bucks, I’m sure it’s worth every penny …

    Now, you could have done this research and realized you were reading the ravings of some not too firmly grounded folks … but noooo, instead you just treated us to their CAPITAL LETTERS. Writing like that, all capital letters and exclamation marks, is the sign of an “SIF”, Myrrh. a single-issue fanatic. I didn’t think you wrote the capital letters. I thought you were incredibly foolish to quote anyone who writes like that without checking their facts.

    Regarding Wikipedia, some articles there are gold, some are garbage, and some of us can tell the difference. If you can find an error in the page I cited, bring it on. Otherwise, you’re just complaining to complain, and not because I’ve cited incorrect info.

    w.

  205. Imagine how much of a temperature difference volcanism could cause if it had generated a significant tax and grant funding system and its own religion!

  206. “The temperature of the earth is not particularly ruled by the changes in how much energy it receives”

    aaaand that’s why it doesn’t get cold at night! Consider me a convert to this genius theory :)

  207. Two new climate proxies for the year without a summer?
    (with apologies to Jane Austen, who died in the following year)
    A. Marriage as a proxy for economic optimism?
    It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man after a good summer must be in want of a wife….
    Marriage rates, England (from August in the tabulated year until the following July)
    All data in thousands:
    1814 94.3
    1815 93.8
    1816 83.4
    1817 84.3
    1818 88.1
    1819 91.7
    Data: Wrigley, E.A. and Schofield, R.S. 1981. The Population History of England 1541-1871: A Reconstruction. Cambrideg University Press.
    Honey-mead availability?
    Jane Austen writing to her sister Cassandra, Sept. 8, 1816:
    “We hear now that there is to be no honey this year.”

  208. From Philip Bradley on April 16, 2012 at 6:16 pm:

    Curious. Other accounts say there was no importation of corn at all during these years due to the Corn Laws enacted in 1815.

    Here is one by Frederick Engel himself.

    Who ya gonna believe, the father of Marxist propaganda or your own lying eyes?

    Same source, pg 81-2:

    “Hence, we do not allow much weight to the alleged inefficient state of our Corn Laws, and the Act of 1815 in particular. As that Act is now about to be repealed, and the whole system materially changed, it is not necessary to enter at length into its real or supposed defects. These defects were, 1st, The admission of foreign grain, duty free, for three months at a time, whenever the ports opened; with the exception of imports from France and Holland, or from places between the rivers Eider and Ridassoa, which were limited to six weeks; 2d, The imperfect mode of obtaining the averages which regulated the opening and shutting of the ports; and 3d, The clause which allowed foreign corn at all times to be imported for the warehouse.”

    Keep reading, around pg 88-9 is interesting. As protectionist as the Corn Laws were supposed to be, between loopholes and graft they didn’t mean much.

  209. As a publishing scientist (in environmental science, not climate specifically) I think that this kind of information could be published in some relevant journal. Along with a discussion about the absolute decrease in degrees there could be some general information about rain for those years and also something about the build up of a legend. It might well be as one (or a few) commentators wrote, that the rains at the wrong time of the year were to blame. Also frost is a really destructive condition. We only need to go from +1 to -1 C (thats 2 C) for a period of hours or days in order for cells the freeze and a crop is lost. The year without a summer is perhaps a general idea (meme) that is applied whenever it is needed. For the Nordic countries such an event occurred 1867 (due to an unknown cause! something that has been speculated by meteorologists). This wikipedia article states that it is the “Finnish famine”, but it struck northern Sweden as well. The famine could haven been avoided if necessary preparations would have been made, but that does not remove the fact that the weather behaved really strange those years. This kind of events, although not striking complete countries, create legends, some true while others salted. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Finnish_famine_of_1866%E2%80%931868

  210. Willis Eschenbach says:
    April 16, 2012 at 6:55 pm
    Of course it’s a quote, Myrrh, I did read the page you got it from. I did not think it was your words, so you’ve misunderstood me, perhaps my writing wasn’t clear.

    My point was that if you’re foolish enough to quote someone who likes CAPITAL LETTERS and FALSE INFORMATION, without making sure that they have their facts straight, that’s on you, not them. I wasn’t talking about what you said, but about the quality of your citations. You don’t seem to have the sense to realize that things with CAPITAL LETTERS are more likely to be bogus,

    Good grief, if you saw the page you would have also noticed what a small part of the picture it took up – the capital letters were just fine, pointing out the very salient conclusion – that it looks LIKE SHOUTING TO SOME HERE IS SOMETHING THAT AN ADULT WOULDN’T MISTAKE – AND IT REMINDS ME THAT SOME ALSO GET THEIR KNICKERS IN A TWIST BECAUSE THEY THINK THAT EVERYTHING IN QUOTES IS, OH GOSH, “SCARE QUOTES”…

    I KEPT IT IN JUST AS I KEEP IN CAPITALS IF I’M PUTTING IN TITLES WHICH WERE GIVEN IN CAPITALS, WHICH IS, ACTUALLY, WHY I ALSO DECIDED TO KEEP IT IN….

    As I don’t like using capitals for stressing a point, I think they’re difficult to read in this typeface, I’m more inclined to use italics..

    especially when their citation says:

    Global temperature chart was complied by Climatologist Cliff Harris that combined the following resources:
    “Climate and the Affairs of Men” by Dr. Iben Browing.
    “Climate…The Key to Understanding Business Cycles…The Raymond H. Wheeler Papers. By Michael Zahorchak
    Weather Science Foundation Papers in Crystal Lake, Illinois.

    Whoa … impressive … “Climate and the Affairs of Men”, and they can’t even spell the author’s name correctly (it’s “Browning”). Browning is famous, but not for climate. In August 1990, he famously said “There’s probably a 50-50 chance of Richter 7 plus earthquake on the New Madrid Fault on or around the evening of December 2nd or the morning of December 3rd.” He based his prediction on “peak gravitational pressure on the earth’s crust from the moon and planets “. I’m sure you know how that turned out …

    You’re such a “clever” arguer, just like the majority of warmists, you pick on irrelevancies and go on and on and on about them to distract from the fact that you won’t deal with what is being said when it contradicts the scenario you’re pushing..

    His earthquake skills were obviously just as good as his climate skills … because the book they refer to, “Climate and the Affairs of Men”, was published in 1975, and forecast a coming period of global cooling. Oh, yeah, his doctorate is in Zoology.

    And yours is in what? As they were all forecasting then, and, with better information about cycles they would have been very reasonable to do so – timing is more difficult, but it is inevitable.

    BECAUSE WE’RE AT THE END OF OUR INTERGLACIAL AND THE ONLY WAY IS DOWN.

    And Michael Zahorchak? You can buy his book on climate cycles, they have it at the astrology store, eight bucks, I’m sure it’s worth every penny …

    Probably is, they hadn’t got into manipulating the records and information to the extent they do now, they’d only just begun – now the pages disappear, like the National Geographic I had bookmarked from 1976 – but with better understanding the agenda driven warmists also saw they could take advantage of the coming decades of warming after the cooling of the previous to create a ‘common state of fear’. It was around then that CRU began changing NZ temp records, iirc, for the building of the scam.

    Anyway, as all this has become better understood, by those still looking at actual cycles and not flattening out all record of them, these dips into colder can be rapid:

    “However, there were at least some rapid climate transitions which occurred when ice sheet extent was no greater than at present, such as the apparently widespread late Holocene cool/arid events at 8200 yrs BP, at around 3,800 yrs BP, and another cool event around 2,600 yrs BP. (although the time taken for onset of these later Holocene changes in regional and global climates does not yet seem to have been determined).” http://www.esd.ornl.gov/projects/qen/transit.html

    “Does not yet seem to have been determined”, to the best of their knowledge at the time, from looking at all information available, objectively. No agenda driven spouting inanities from selective cherry picking created from a superficial reading of temperature records, like this latest ‘crusade’ of yours to wipe out any possibility of cause and effect. Which I’ve now reluctantly have to conclude from your posts here is what you’re doing.

    Now, you could have done this research and realized you were reading the ravings of some not too firmly grounded folks … but noooo, instead you just treated us to their CAPITAL LETTERS. Writing like that, all capital letters and exclamation marks, is the sign of an “SIF”, Myrrh. a single-issue fanatic. I didn’t think you wrote the capital letters. I thought you were incredibly foolish to quote anyone who writes like that without checking their facts.

    Well, Willis, you continue to be fixated on that one trick pony rebuttal as it gets you out of looking at the actual data and any information presented which shows your concept lacking substance.

    Regarding Wikipedia, some articles there are gold, some are garbage, and some of us can tell the difference. If you can find an error in the page I cited, bring it on. Otherwise, you’re just complaining to complain, and not because I’ve cited incorrect info.

    Sure it varies, among the gold includes a fair selection of historical information, observation, as I said in my first post here, and the gem “That the 1815 eruption occurred during the middle of the Dalton Minimum (a period of unusually low solar activity) may also be significant.” Which I now see, from further research on this and having found a vast study which had been embargoed for the 30 years they got into the swing of ‘Carbon Dioxide causes global warming’, is very significant.

    But, you’d rather cherry pick only that which supports your view and Frank found some more for you. Ignore, or rather, denigrade contemporary observation, don’t take difficulties of farming into account as others have explained so well, don’t bother with the fascinating conclusion of the study I’ve presented, all just so you can continue to play down any volcanic effects on climate, though why you’re doing this remains an mildly interesting question.

    It’s obvious some warmists keep promoting themselves as sceptics in their determination to continue to push the junk science of AGW, and some, like Monckton and Fred Singer get into quite a rage against any pointing out the flaws in their carbon dioxide warms the earth claims by bringing in real physics, such as gravity missing from the cartoon energy budget they keep pretending is real. Their ‘denialists give sceptics a bad name’ meme, trying to set themselves apart as if rational and logical to protect the deliberately dumbed down fictional fisics of AGW.. Wolves in sheep’s clothing is how I’ve come to think of them.

    Anyway whatever the reason, my mistake, again, I see you’re not at all interested in the scientific pursuit of reality here as just like Monckton and Singer you wail and moan when you’re on the receiving end, but get into full swing with the same tactics against those pointing out how illogical you’re being – “Logic didn’t work for you, so you now try insults?”

  211. Willis re your: “Second, no way there were “90 major eruptions” in the Little Ice Age. Your reference shows the LIA lasting from 1350 to 1850, which is odd in itself, but never mind. A major eruption is often taken as one with a “VEI”, or volcanic explosive index, of 5 or more. Wikipedia has a list of “large volcanic eruptions”, VEI of 5 or more. There are exactly nine eruptions on that list during the Little Ice Age.”

    I ask again. Why odd in itself? This is on the lines of the general spread as wiki says:

    It may be conventionally defined as a period extending from the 16th to the 19th centuries,[3][4][5] or about 1350 to about 1850 [6] though climatologists and historians working with local records no longer expect to agree on either the start or end dates of this period, which varied according to local conditions.”

    But a general spread from around 1250 also common. Here it has from 1300 to 1870: http://www.eh-resources.org/timeline/timeline_lia.html

    “The Little Ice Age is a period between about 1300 and 1870 during which Europe and North America were subjected to much colder winters than during the 20th century. The period and can be divided in two phases, the first beginning around 1300 and continuing until the late 1400s. There was a slightly warmer period in the 1500s, after which the climate deteriorated substantially. The period between 1600 and 1800 marks the height of the Little Ice Age.”

    Wiki on the Little Ice Age also says:

    “There is no agreed beginning year of the Little Ice Age[9][10], although there is a frequently referenced series of events preceding the known climatic minima. Starting in the 13th century, pack ice began advancing southwards in the North Atlantic, as did glaciers in Greenland. There is anecdotal evidence of expanding glaciers almost worldwide. Based on radiocarbon-dating of roughly 150 samples of dead plant material with roots intact collected from beneath ice caps on Baffin Island and Iceland, Miller et al. (2012)[11] state that summer cold and ice growth began abruptly between 1275 and 1300 AD, followed by “a substantial intensification” from 1430 to 1455 AD.[12] The three years of torrential rains beginning in 1315 ushered in an era of unpredictable weather in Northern Europe, which did not lift until the 19th century[citation needed].

    In contrast, a climate reconstruction based on glacial length[13][14] shows no great variation from 1600 to 1850, though it shows strong retreat thereafter.

    For this reason, any of several dates ranging over 400 years may indicate the beginning of the Little Ice Age:

    1250 for when Atlantic pack ice began to grow
    1275 to 1300 based on radiocarbon dating of plants killed by glaciation
    1300 for when warm summers stopped being dependable in Northern Europe
    1315 for the rains and Great Famine of 1315–1317
    1550 for theorized beginning of worldwide glacial expansion
    1650 for the first climatic minimum.
    The Little Ice Age ended in the latter half of the 19th century or early in the 20th century”

    So, what is your objection to 1350-1850?

    As for your claim that wiki says only “exactly” nine 5+ eruptions during the LIA, I haven’t found it, but looking at the 19th century (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_large_volcanic_eruptions_of_the_19th_Century) it says there were five such to 1850, six if you include 1854. It also comes with a caveat:

    “Note that there may be many other eruptions that have not been identified, and estimates for the size of eruptions can be subject to considerable uncertainties.”

    Please give the link to the page you’re referring to as your ‘clue’, “large volcanic eruptions”, throws up a rather long list which I don’t have the inclination to sort through. I’d like to see where the other 4 were and when exactly they were…

  212. Re the comments above about Corn laws, wheat imports etc – the point is, the commodity price graphs do not support the notion of massive crop failures. It is true that there was a slight uptick in prices in 1816 – 1817, but it is simply not possible that import substitution would have kept prices so relatively stable across so many products if there had been massive crop failures across the board for whatever reason.

    As the graph demonstrates, there were much worse years for price inflation than 1816 -17. It is quite likely that the 1816 harvest was not a bumper year, but it is just not possible that it was catastrophically bad, either.

    As for the contemporary accounts, the day farmers stop complaining about weather and prices is the day they stop being farmers!

  213. Given the difficulty that this site has exposed in using temperature records to detect climate trends it should really come as no surprise that even earlier records are inadequate to determine the climate change that resulted in the widespread agricultural failures of the years after the 1810 and 1815 eruptions.

    The purpose of the weather records made at the time was to record the local macro changes in the weather. It was not designed and is really unsuitable to detect the MUCH smaller climate trends. A half dgree deficit over many months is swamped by a daily variation at leats and order of magnitude greater.
    It is hard enough to derive a climate trend from the modern weather station network for similar reasons. Epecting a clear signal from the few primitive weather observations from the 1800s is unrealistic. Equally mistaken to assume that because those records do not show it clearly it does not exist.

    That weather station data was originally intended for no more than comparing short term variations of several degrees in a local area and is not appropriate for deriving accurate long term trends of less than a degree is a problem that has dogged climate research since its infancy. It is possible to extract data on small long term trends from this data that was intended for other use with much lower resolution, but as has been evident here that can give rise to dispute.

    The most important impact of climate changes is not the absolute temperature or rainfall or KJoules/kg of air, its how that impacts on the agricultural production that feeds us all. Obviously other factors influence agricultural production, but the growing conditions are key. With temperature and rainfall the dominant factors.

    Extreme weather or climate trends are only of significant interest if they kill people. The main way they do that is through crop failure and famine. Whatever the weather, if it causes crop failure it is catastrophic even if it does not show up in historical observations, tree rings or other complex proxy indicators.

    The data on crop prices from the early 1800s globally shows the influence of the two major eruptions, the unknown source in ~ 1810 and Tambora in 1815. Commodity prices in Britain and some other parts of Europe is complicated by the transition to a post war economy, but taking arable crops from all markets the impact of both eruptions can be seen. And as several posters have presented here there are extensive contemporary records of the problems and hardships the widespread crop failures of the time caused.

    The surface temperature variability will inevitably swamp any small trend in historical weather data – especially as that variability, NOT the small trend is what the record was intended to record. But weather and climate variations are of most significance to human society if they affect crop yields. I posted this link before that gives access to a wide range of global market prices at the time.

    http://www.gcpdb.info/index.html

    The magnitude, localisation and scale of any climate change caused by a major volcanic eruption may be open to dispute. It is certainly more obvious in the temperature record of the lower troposphere than at the surface as the UAH data show. But the magnitude does not matter if the effect is crop failure.
    Even if Willis shows that a volcanic cooling event is much smaller in degrees C and shorter lasting than other studies, that does not reduce the known damage such events did to the agricultural production.

    How many degrees the average temperature dropped and for how long and where is really of less importance than how many people starved because the crops failed as a result of the volcanic induced climate change.

  214. Willis Eschenbach says:
    April 15, 2012 at 11:02 am

    Nylo says:
    April 15, 2012 at 8:42 am

    Willis, it is true that 1816 was just a case of “one more cold summer”, and not a really, really cold summer anywhere, but the big difference is that this cold summer happened in all places, while normally, if somewhere in the world is particularly cold, it is because it is hotter in other parts.

    Nylo, the graphs above show that there were a number of places that didn’t suffer the terrible summer, the “year without a summer”. So if you want to claim that “this cold summer happened in all places”, you’ll first have to explain why it didn’t happen in Stockholm, Milan, Bologna, Manchester, New Haven, and the other places for which I’ve shown records.

    Willis, as your own graphics show, summer 1816 was indeed a cold summer in all of the places that you cite, in all cases among the coldest in the plotted periods. The fact that it was not always the coldest doesn’t mean that it wasn’t cold. So I don’t have to provide any further citations, I cite you, I cite your own data. And I repeat that the key is that it was a quite cold summer everywhere (for their respective standards), while in ordinary years you have some places with unusual cold and some other places unusually hot. I tell you, find one single record of one single place in the world that had a particularly hot summer in 1816, or just a summer with above average temperature. Having everywhere cold is something quite remarkable, even if nowhere had been a record cold.

  215. Nisse says: April 17, 2012 at 12:04 am
    Also frost is a really destructive condition. We only need to go from +1 to -1 C (that’s 2 C) for a period of hours or days in order for cells the freeze and a crop is lost. The year without a summer is perhaps a general idea (meme) that is applied whenever it is needed. For the Nordic countries such an event occurred 1867 (due to an unknown cause! something that has been speculated by meteorologists). This wikipedia article states that it is the “Finnish famine”, but it struck northern Sweden as well.
    _______________

    Thank you Nisse for raising my major concern. In 2003 I wrote that global cooling would resume by about 2020 to 2030.

    The basis for this bold prediction, made almost a decade ago during the height of global warming hysteria, was:

    Examination of multiple forms of scientific data indicated that temperature changes were natural and probably cyclical, the cycle could be related to the Gleissberg Cycle (or the PDO), climate sensitivity to CO2 was low and NOT a significant driver of climate, and Earth was nearing the end of a natural warming half-cycle that commenced in ~1975, after a natural cooling half-cycle that lasted from ~1940 to ~1975.

    A phone call to paleoclimatologist Dr. Tim Patterson resulted in the predicted timing, based on Tim’s work on the Gleissberg Cycle. If the shorter PDO is a better indicator, global cooling could start sooner, about now.

    In ~2003, NASA was projecting a fairly robust Solar Cycle 24 (Hathaway, not Svalgaard) and a quiet SC25. To date, SC24 has been very quiet (Leif the Lucky?). The PDO was still in “warm” phase in 2003. NASA announced the shift in PDO to “cool” phase in 2008.

    http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2008-066

    Also, Earth is nearing the end of a brief warm interglacial, between longer periods when continental glaciers covered much of what is now Western Europe, Russia and Canada. There goes the neighbourhood.

    So what happens if I’m wrong? There is some modest (NOT catastrophic) warming, and the majority of humanity actually benefits. History shows that humanity and the environment benefit during warm periods.

    And what happens if I’m right? That depends how much global cooling occurs. If cooling is moderate, more early frosts will reduce the grain harvest locally – not a huge problem. If global cooling is severe, frequent and widespread early frosts will significantly reduce the grain harvest, driving up food prices and having a major negative impact on humanity, and particularly the poor.

    All in all, I’d prefer to be wrong. I could live with that – and so could many other people.

    In the meantime, our politicians continue to obsess about mythical catastrophic manmade global warming (CAGW), despite the fact that there has been NO net global warming for ~10-15 years.

    Should severe global cooling occur, humanity will be woefully unprepared.

  216. I agree entirely with izen. Temperature records are a poor indicator of anything. A couple points:
    The repeal of the corn law was the single greatest boost to the British economy and directly responsible for the huge increase in economic output throughout the 19th century. Low or zero tariffs work.
    Crops grown in the northerly reaches of the grain growing areas of the world are nearly always marketed the following year because they are often harvested later in the year. For example, on the Canadian prairies crops seeded in May are sometimes not off the fields until late October and sometimes even into November. In western Canada the marketing crop year for grains seeded in spring 2012 ends on August 1, 2013.
    I have lived through 2 volcanic eruptions; Pinatubo 1992 and the Icelandic eruptions of 2010. In both cases the summers that coincided with those eruptions were cold. 1992 was cold and dry and 2010 was cold and wet. In fact 2010 was so wet that many acres on the Canadian Prairies were left unseeded. By October 27th 2010 most of the prairies were inundated with snow and some of that snow stayed until spring 2011.

  217. izen says:
    April 17, 2012 at 3:45 am

    Given the difficulty that this site has exposed in using temperature records to detect climate trends it should really come as no surprise that even earlier records are inadequate to determine the climate change that resulted in the widespread agricultural failures of the years after the 1810 and 1815 eruptions.

    The purpose of the weather records made at the time was to record the local macro changes in the weather. It was not designed and is really unsuitable to detect the MUCH smaller climate trends. A half dgree deficit over many months is swamped by a daily variation at leats and order of magnitude greater.
    It is hard enough to derive a climate trend from the modern weather station network for similar reasons. Epecting a clear signal from the few primitive weather observations from the 1800s is unrealistic. Equally mistaken to assume that because those records do not show it clearly it does not exist.

    Thanks, Izen. It’s not clear what your claim is here. I provided actual temperature records. I was not trying to “determine the climate change” as you say . I was not looking at a “climate trend” as you speculate.

    I was looking at what you call local macro changes in the weather, which as you point out is what the thermometric record was for. I was not looking at climate at all. Why is a thermometric record inadequate for determining if Stockholm was cold in 1816 compared to 1815 or 1825? That’s what thermometers are for. You are correct that the Stockholm record would be inadequate for determining a half-degree change over a century … but I’m not looking for that, I’m looking at the difference from one year to the next.

    And for that, thermometers are quite adequate.

    w.

  218. Myrrh says:
    April 17, 2012 at 1:19 am

    … LIKE SHOUTING TO SOME HERE IS SOMETHING THAT AN ADULT WOULDN’T MISTAKE – AND IT REMINDS ME THAT SOME ALSO GET THEIR KNICKERS IN A TWIST BECAUSE THEY THINK THAT EVERYTHING IN QUOTES IS, OH GOSH, “SCARE QUOTES”…

    I KEPT IT IN JUST AS I KEEP IN CAPITALS IF I’M PUTTING IN TITLES WHICH WERE GIVEN IN CAPITALS, WHICH IS, ACTUALLY, WHY I ALSO DECIDED TO KEEP IT IN….

    BECAUSE WE’RE AT THE END OF OUR INTERGLACIAL AND THE ONLY WAY IS DOWN. …

    Like I said, Myrrh, that’s why I ignore your posts, because it seems that for you “the only way is down”, so you are going down in flames, shouting in capital letters as you go and citing astrologers as your authorities on the way down.

    I thought perhaps pointing out your egregious errors in this case might make a difference, but I see now that that was a forlorn hope. From your perspective you weren’t wrong then, you aren’t wrong now, and by God you’ve never been wrong.

    So, I’m gonna go back to ignoring your posts, sorry to have disturbed you …

    w.

  219. izen says:
    April 17, 2012 at 3:45 am

    … How many degrees the average temperature dropped and for how long and where is really of less importance than how many people starved because the crops failed as a result of the volcanic induced climate change.

    Thanks for a thoughtful post, izen. You are 100% correct as far as the effect on humanity goes. But I’m investigating a very different question.

    This is the claim made by the AGW supporters that volcanoes seriously depress the global temperature for an extended period of time. And for answering that question, “how many degrees the average temperature dropped and for how long and where” is extremely important.

    The reason this question is of interest, to me and to others, relates to the climate sensitivity. The AGW folks claim that for each watt per square metre (W/m2) of additional forcing, the temperature goes up by 0.8°C, and for each loss in forcing of 1 W/m2, the temperature goes down by 0.8°C.

    However, if the climate sensitivity were really as high as they claim, then the change in forcing from a big volcano like Tambora should be a global temperature drop of a couple degrees for three or four years … which is what I set out to investigate.

    In fact, what I found is that Tambora had effects, but they were local rather than global (central Europe but not Russia, for example), short rather than long (basically, one summer was affected), and involved a change in the weather patterns instead of a general decline in temperatures (late frosts and unseasonal rains rather than a decline in average temperature).

    Was there a “year without a summer”? Sure, from the human viewpoint, because crops failed. But was there a global reduction in temperatures as claimed by the AGW supporters?

    If so, I can’t find it.

    All the best,

    w.

  220. Willis;
    The impact the farmers noticed in 1992 was not in the yields but in the failure of the crop to ripen. I drove from Winnipeg to Regina and on to Saskatoon (~1000km) in the first week of September that year. Almost all the crop was still in the field and still green (unripened). Many farmers salvaged the crop, which was good because of adequate rain and cooler temperatures, by applying a desiccant, usually Roundup, to make the crop suitable for harvesting.

  221. Nylo says:
    April 17, 2012 at 5:15 am

    Willis, as your own graphics show, summer 1816 was indeed a cold summer in all of the places that you cite, in all cases among the coldest in the plotted periods.

    In Armagh, as my own graphics show, for the period from 1813-1817, 1816 was the second warmest year. For the plotted period (ten years) it was the fifth warmest. So I fear my own graphics don’t bear out your claim.

    Was there an effect from Tambora? Yes. Was it global? No way. The Lauterbacher data is quite clear on that point:

    Bear in mind that these are shown as anomalies from the modern era, which is about 1°C warmer. So to compare it to that time, whatever is in orange should be in red. Whatever is in white should be in orange. And what ever is light blue should be in white. Which, of course, further reduces the size of the area where it occurred, as well as the amount of the temperature drop.

    But even in its current form, it clearly shows that the summer of 1816 was NOT a cold summer everywhere, so your theory is falsified.

    w.

  222. Tim Ball says:
    April 17, 2012 at 11:57 am

    Willis;
    The impact the farmers noticed in 1992 was not in the yields but in the failure of the crop to ripen. I drove from Winnipeg to Regina and on to Saskatoon (~1000km) in the first week of September that year. Almost all the crop was still in the field and still green (unripened). Many farmers salvaged the crop, which was good because of adequate rain and cooler temperatures, by applying a desiccant, usually Roundup, to make the crop suitable for harvesting.

    Thanks, Dr. Tim. I’m always reluctant to contradict you because of the overall quality of your work, but I fear I must do so.

    It sounds like you are talking solely about wheat. But the chart I showed above displays the yield variations in all of the fruits, vegetables, grains, tubers, and pulses (peas and beans) grown in Canada.

    Not one of them shows a meaningful reduction in yield from what you claim were very bad conditions. Not one. And certainly not all of them were “salvaged” by using a dessicant.

    So I fear that your explanation only explains a very small part of the lack of your claimed effect from Pinatubo in the summer of 1992. Yes, it was cool and rainy … welcome to Canada …

    w.

  223. Looking in “Seasons and Prices -The role of the weather in English Agricultural History” E.L.Jones It does seem that the harvest of 1816 was bad one
    ‘A backward spring followed by a cold wet summer resulted in a in a late harvest deficient in both quantity and quality’
    John Hoyte of Leicestershire “A very serios cold and wet summer …there was Hundreds of Loads of White corn cut in November and there is Thousands got as is so Heated and Grown that it is neither fit for Bread or Pigs…… some oats still stood (here) on Jan 13th 1817″
    William Flemming of Cumberland: November 8th ” There is at this time much Grain particularly Oats out in the Fields. It is very uncommon to see Fields of Grain some uncut and some standing in the Shock or Stook covered with Snow and frozen together, but it is the case this Year”

    It doesnt argue for a major volcano effect on temperature but maybe it is worth considering how sunshine hours impact on the difference between the maximum temp and the average temp, looking at some numbers for monthly June temps; with 300 hours the monthly average maximum is around 6 Centigrade above the monthly average temperature, whereas with 100 hours its only 3.5 Centigrade.
    -and of course this is measured inside a screen and underestimates the effect ‘out in the sun’.

    Looking at the CET monthly anomalies from KNMI, it is quite striking/strange that Jan 1814 was 6 Centigrade below normal for January ( preceding the eruption), and that a big step-change drop in temperature that occured around 1782 also preceded the 92 Gt SO2 Northern Hemisphere injection of 1783 (according to Gao’s dating). The very cold January of 1795 (6 Centigrade below the Jan average) again preceded the smaller 6.7Gt N-H injection of 1796.

  224. From johanna on April 17, 2012 at 2:55 am:

    Re the comments above about Corn laws, wheat imports etc – the point is, the commodity price graphs do not support the notion of massive crop failures. It is true that there was a slight uptick in prices in 1816 – 1817, but it is simply not possible that import substitution would have kept prices so relatively stable across so many products if there had been massive crop failures across the board for whatever reason.

    Did you even try reading the source material I gave the link for? The warehousing operations to control prices were quite extensive, with grains stored for rather long periods. You supported a thoroughly modern view with the market prices reacting even before the harvest was in. You have no appreciation for the long delays back then. As on pg 80: “…1817 and 1818, that is to say, to the prices of the two very inferior crops 1816 and 1817, which then came into consumption.” So an 1816 crop failure would be shown in 1817 prices, if it was otherwise what we expect of modern commerce, which it wasn’t.

    As the graph demonstrates, there were much worse years for price inflation than 1816 -17. It is quite likely that the 1816 harvest was not a bumper year, but it is just not possible that it was catastrophically bad, either.

    Again, the prices need not reflect the reality due to then-existing market manipulations. We have the written account published 1822 that the 1816 British harvest was lousy with 1817 also being miserable. Do you have any direct accounts saying it wasn’t?

    As for the contemporary accounts, the day farmers stop complaining about weather and prices is the day they stop being farmers!

    Which is fair for farmers as their crops are their lifeblood. Way back then, before crop insurance and government disaster programs, farming on rented land or as sharecroppers with no safety net, with a much larger portion of the populace involved in the raising of food than today, with food costing a much larger portion of wages than today, loud complaints were justified.

  225. kakada:

    Yes, I did look at your source. Firstly, note what it is:

    On the depressed state of agriculture
    James Cleghorn, Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland, Edinburgh
    A. Constable and Co., 1822

    It’s a polemic from a farmers’ lobby group which seeks – surprise, surprise – government action to help farmers. There is nothing wrong with that, but as a source it is far from impartial.

    Secondly, it is just not true that a complicated mechanism of storage and market controls was responsible for the fact that a whole range of commodities – not just a few selected grains – remained quite stable in price over 1816 – 17. For a start, many agricultural products are substitutable, and/or interdependent. This means that if there is a shortage of grain, or hay, it affects the price of stock feed, which affects the price of meat. It is absurd to suggest that there was so much stock feed and hay in storage in 1816 and 1817 that a disastrous harvest had virtually no effect on either grain and hay prices, and therefore on meat prices, for two whole years. Where were these massive, weatherproof, vermin-proof storage facilities for relatively low value products? Who paid for them and the storage costs for all that time, with no cost increase reflected in prices? It simply doesn’t make sense.

    Thirdly, it is odd that this remarkable storage and price stabilisation system failed so miserably in other years, but worked a treat on this occasion to compensate for the ‘missing summer’.

    Finally, to suggest that rising or falling prices in future due to current harvest sizes were not taken into account in the early 19th century is to seriously underestimate the intelligence of the populace, who were just as smart as we are today. Indeed, given that maintaining the food supply chain was much more important in those times (due to lack of safe storage, no refrigeration and less surplus), the knowledge that there would be less barley for future beer would quickly spread through the brewing industry, large and small. Markets worked just the same then as they do now.

  226. Perhaps I should have put in a couple of smilies, I thought using the caps was funny..

    I wonder where Willis got his nine 5+ eruptions during the LIA?

  227. One of the problems of identifying Tambora among temperature plots is that there were other eruptions, not quite as large, prior to that year and similarly for a few decades later in the early 1830s.

    For a wealth of information on the subject, see H. H. Lamb, 1970, VOLCANIC DUST IN THE ATMOSPHERE; WITH A CHRONOLOGY AND ASSESSMENT OF ITS METEOROLOGICAL SIGNIFICANCE, Phil. Trans. Roy. Soc. London, v266, 425-533.

    There was another practical problem with this WUWT piece in that many of the graphs have no years on the x-axis! This may be late for the blog, but was late seeing it and finding the paper.
    If you cannot find a copy, I can send you a pdf version.

  228. Paul80 says:
    April 17, 2012 at 11:35 pm

    There was another practical problem with this WUWT piece in that many of the graphs have no years on the x-axis! This may be late for the blog, but was late seeing it and finding the paper.

    That was the point, Paul, that without knowing the years you can’t spot the volcano. It seems you didn’t notice the lower plots, which do have the years so you can see if your guesses were correct.

    My best to you,

    w.

  229. “That was the point, Paul, that without knowing the years you can’t spot the volcano. It seems you didn’t notice the lower plots, which do have the years so you can see if your guesses were correct.”

    You can’t spot that particular volcano.

    Here’s an interesting look at the effects of an earlier volcanic eruption in Iceland:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8624791.stm

    “It is the second greatest eruption of the last 1,000 years, behind only the 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia, says Stephen Self, visiting professor of volcanology at the Open University.

    Laki’s output of sulphur dioxide dwarfs the 1990 eruption of Pinatubo in the Philippines, which is famous for halting global warming for several years. While that eruption produced 17 mega tonnes of sulphur dioxide, Laki was pumping the same amount out every three days at its peak, says Self. He estimates Laki’s power was over 100 times greater than the current eruption.

    “The 1783 eruption pumped out so much sulphur gas, creating a huge cloud of sulphuric acid droplets which began to drift over Europe travelling eastwards over the whole world,” he says.

    ‘Apocalypse’

    The noxious fog travelled down through Norway, Germany, France and across to Britain, causing panic when farm labourers began dropping like flies. People at this time had no idea where the fog had come from or that sulphur dioxide was mixing with water vapour in the lungs to choke victims. Research into parish records has led to estimates of more than 20,000 deaths in Britain alone during the summer of 1783.

    The extreme heat – not connected to the volcano – would have made the fog all the more unpleasant, says Philip Eden, former BBC weatherman.

    “July 1783 is the equal warmest month in 300 years of records for the UK. Because of the ash the sun shone from a white sky – it must have felt like the apocalypse.”

    The Icelanders stopped dancing and unlike the Norwegians and Faroe Islanders we lost the old dances

    Professor Gunnar Karlsson

    UK flights grounded for second day
    It was only in the autumn that the fog finally lifted. But soon an even worse problem was on the way – the most severe winter for 250 years, caused by the build-up of heat absorbing sulphur dioxide in the stratosphere.

    But nowhere suffered more than Iceland. It was not the eruption itself that proved deadly but the environmental consequences, says Gunnar Gudmundsson, a geophysicist at the Icelandic Meteorological Office.

    “People died not because of the eruption, but because of starvation,” he says. “The farm animals died, the crops died – it affected the whole country.”

    Toxic gases poisoned the plants and vegetation, which in turn killed the livestock. Eight of every ten sheep are thought to have died, while half of all the cattle and horses perished. The extreme winters that followed – caused by the sulphuric gases – ensured that a fifth of the country’s population died, historians estimate.”

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8624791.stm

  230. Hutch: good link. Did not take a look at the full source. But apart from wheat and such there are also wine quality (anna v mentioned wine too). So are there any particular records of good/bad wine harvests for 1816-1817?

    I mentioned the “Finnish famine” which struck with cold and “strange” weathers in 1867 (mainly). it looks like this in the classic Stockholm series. I.e. the coldest year on record (equally cold years, or winters, probably occurred in the end of 1600s) http://www.smhi.se/polopoly_fs/1.2849!image/temp_ar_stockholm.png_gen/derivatives/fullSizeImage/temp_ar_stockholm.png

  231. Myrrh above linked to the BBC report about Laki, the Icelandic volcano of 1783. True to the BBC’s tradition of climate alarmism, they say:

    ‘Apocalypse’
    The noxious fog travelled down through Norway, Germany, France and across to Britain, causing panic when farm labourers began dropping like flies. People at this time had no idea where the fog had come from or that sulphur dioxide was mixing with water vapour in the lungs to choke victims. Research into parish records has led to estimates of more than 20,000 deaths in Britain alone during the summer of 1783.
    The extreme heat – not connected to the volcano – would have made the fog all the more unpleasant, says Philip Eden, former BBC weatherman.
    “July 1783 is the equal warmest month in 300 years of records for the UK. Because of the ash the sun shone from a white sky – it must have felt like the apocalypse.”

    First off, July 1783 is not the “equal warmest month” in the Central England Temperature record, it’s the second warmest July. Typical BBC exaggeration.

    More to the point, elevated death rates in England happened all the time during that period. The Population History of England, 1541-1871 lists no less than 25 years with death rates which were more than 10% above the trend. 1783 is a minor year (16.7% above the trend).

    In particular, deaths in both 1779 and 1781 were more than 10% above the trend, just like 1783 … but there were no volcanoes in those years. So while it is certainly likely that Laki raised the death rates in England, given the elevated death rates two years and four years previous to the volcano it is very difficult to determine how much Laki changed the picture.

    My point is that these kinds of eruptions build up stories, and that the stories are often repeated uncritically. For example, I find no record of “farm laborers … dropping like flies”, and I suspect this is a claim made up by the BBC author. There is a much less hysterical account of the effects of the Laki volcano here. It points out that even in Iceland the fog wasn’t what killed people. Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of deaths in Iceland. But by and large they were because the livestock and plants died from fluorine poisoning from the volcanic ash, and the people starved.

    w.

  232. The nominal price series that various people are citing are not what one should look at. In the couple of years after the Napoleonic wars, there was a general deflation associated with demobilization and pressure on labor markets. Unemployment spiked and the price of labor went down… even more than commodity prices did. As a result, most economic historians agree that there was a trough in all prices and real incomes and GDP, beginning in 1816 and lasting through 1817, at least in the UK.

    This is the conclusion one gets from both the “optimist” camp in economic history and the “pessimist” camp in economic history. Lots of blood has been spilled analyzing this period in England because of the (never-ending) debate as to if and when the English industrial revolution actually started to have benefits for the average family. (The optimists say yes; the pessimists no.)

    Here is a classic optimist paper:

    English Workers’ Living Standards during the Industrial Revolution: A New Look
    Peter H. Lindert and Jeffrey G. Williamson
    The Economic History Review Vol. 36, No. 1 (Feb., 1983), pp. 1-25

    Here is a classic pessimist paper:

    Pessimism Perpetuated: Real Wages and the Standard of Living in Britain during and after the Industrial Revolution.
    Charles H. Feinstein
    The Journal of Economic History Vol. 58, No. 3 (Sep., 1998), pp. 625-658

    Both agree that there was a trough in real wages in 1816, 1817 and 1818. Meaning, wages fell even faster than the prices of most goods.

    The macroeconomic fundamentals are too confounding at this particular point in time to tell much about the effect (or lack of effect) of an 1816 volcano on prices. And looking at nominal prices is just an econ 101 blunder.

    Stick with the temperature data, meager as it is.

  233. Willis, – Sorry I did not appreciate the intention of posing the graphs as trick questions, as I already knew of such a problem with the Tambora eruption, which blew a massive amount of solid material (rocks) into the air. My main intention of including the reference was to draw your’s and others’ attention to it – well worth studying, the whole 109 pages.
    From Lamb’s paper (the reference above, Appendix I, p. 512 ):

    “For 3 days there was, darkness at 500 km from the volcano. ‘Extrusion of much larger quantities of material than that thrown out of Krakatau in 1883.’ Sapper quotes various workers’ estimates of the solid ejecta ranging from 100 to 300 km^3, doubtless mainly as solid blocks of great size and only a small proportion as dust Many reports of remarkable sunsets in London and luminous twilight from 15 May 1815 to the end of the year. The eruption continued in some degree until 1819. Estimate of Tambora veil by subtraction of figures for other eruptions from d.v.i. for total veil 1g12-18. 320003• q = 15 km^3 would give d.v.i. equivalent to that here deduced from other approaches, possibly implying that of the total solid matter blown away only about 15 km^3 was carried as dust.”

    In the main text (p. 463), are some temperature plots, (not easy to make comparisons), but then Lamb continues:

    “The strongest features of these curves are the lower average temperatures lasting a year or two after a number of great volcanic eruptions whose dust veils have been recorded by observation, notably those in 1783, 1811-13, 1815, 1835-37, 1875, 1883, 1888–92 and 1902. Temperature drops bringing the average for the whole year down by 0.5 to 1 °C apply to most of the cases mentioned. After 1783 the temperature difference probably exceeded 1 °C. The great Tambora eruption in 1815 was followed by an anomaly of annual mean temperature for 1816 averaging -1°C in middle latitudes of the northern hemisphere and – 0.7 °C for’ the whole Earth’ (actually northern hemisphere land data between 13 and 65 °N – Madras to Archangel and some in New England), according to Koppen’s estimates. The year 1816 became famous in much of Europe and North America as ‘the year without a summer’ (Brooks 1949, p. 118; Hoyt 1958). Cyclonic activity seems to have been abnormally concentrated in positions near Newfoundland and from central Ireland across England to the southern Baltic. In Merionethshire there were only 3 or 4 days without rain in the 6 months May to October 1816, and the average temperatures of the summer months in London and other parts of England ranged from 2 to 3 oc below normal. In eastern Canada and New England there was widespread snow between 6 and 11 June 1816 and frosts in each month. Dearth ensued in many countries, amounting to famine in places, e.g. in parts of Wales and northern Ireland. (Some crops did not ripen, others rotted or sprouted in the fields; stocks of flour were exhausted by the end of the year. This led to numerous small farms being abandoned in Co. Tyrone and to begging, vagrancy and food riots in Wales also.)”

    So temperature is not the only factor in a “Year without a summer,” add rain, lack of sunshine and crop failure will be implanted in those people’s memories.

  234. A small correction and explanation: for “d.v.i. for total veil 1g12-18. 320003• q = 15 km^3″ —
    “for d.v.i. (dust veil index) for total veil, 1812-18, 32000, q = 15 km^3 … “

  235. Thanks, Paul. I agree that there were a variety of effects from the eruption of Tambora, you’ve done a good job listing a bunch of them.

    My point is that the Tambora eruption did not significantly depress the global temperature, as has been claimed for volcanoes.

    Here’s why that’s important. The AGW alarmists claim that the “climate sensitivity” is high, and that temperature is a linear function of downwelling radiation.

    This means that if downwelling radiation decreases, the temperature has to go down. It is clear that volcanoes cause a large, sometimes very large reduction in downwelling radiation … but the global temperature doesn’t seem to drop much. It didn’t drop much with Pinatubo. It didn’t drop much with Krakatoa. And it even didn’t drop much with Tambora.

    That’s my point here. Sure, volcanoes play havoc with the weather. But they don’t cause the global drop in temperature that the AGW supporters claim is an inevitable result of the reduction in downwelling radiation.

    All the best,

    w.

  236. Willis:

    Thanks for your kind comments and I am pleased and flattered you are willing to challenge knowing that you won”t get a hysterical and angered reaction – it is critical we can disagree without being disagreeable.

    Your position that your comments apply to a wide variety of crops is fine, but you must consider acreages, the location of my trip, the vastness of Canada and the nature of meridional Rossby Wave circulation that occurred after Pinatubo, as it had in 1816-17 following Tambora. Cereal grains including Wheat (corn for the English), Barley, Oats and Rye dominate the landscape with the yellow of Canola (formerly Rape) interspersed. They all ripen at different times yet in 1992 were uniformly green (except for the yellow Canola). Pulse crops (peas, beans, lentils) have increased in acreage but were still relatively small in 1992.

    The pattern of Rossby Waves in 1816-17, as identified in my two articles given at the 1992 Conference on Tambora;
    “Climatic Change, Droughts and Their Social Impact: Central Canada, 1811-20, a classic example.” In C.R.Harington (ed) The Year Without a Summer? World Climate in 1816. 1992, National Museum of Natural Sciences, Canadian Museum of Nature, Ottawa

    “The Year without a Summer: Its Impact on the Fur Trade and History of Western Canada.” In C.R.Harington (ed) The Year Without a Summer? World Climate in 1816. 1992, National Museum of Natural Sciences, Canadian Museum of Nature, Ottawa
    show a distinct and extreme meridional pattern similar to those, although regionally varying, to those in 1992.

    For example, in 1816 the eastern Prairies had record colds and a severe drought that lasted from 1816 to 1819. It was well documented by Hudson’s Bay Company reports, especially by Peter Fidler, who was given thermometers through the Royal Society for his interest and contributions. Western Prairies had no severe cold or drought in 1816, in fact at Fort Chipewyan in the northern regions it was excessively wet. This reflects the pattern in Europe of that year with extreme cold in western Europe and normal conditions in the central and eastern regions.

    It is also my experience that crop yields are a relatively poor indicator of the weather and environmental conditions that occurred. For example, in western Canada or any of the grain growing regions, which as natural grassland regions have relatively low precipitation, it is not the amount of precipitation in a year, but when it occurred relative to the plants growth and ripening cycle. I had always referred to this as the “effective precipitation.” Koppen addressed the issue partially in his climate classification when he distinguished between 70% summer rain, 70% winter rain, and even rain throughout the year. Thornthwaite struggled with it in differentiating between actual evapotranspiration and potential evapotranspiration. Irrigation famers struggle with the problem all the time – when to irrigate.

    We saw this problem in a recent UK headline that said drought continues despite the rain. It speaks to the problems of how you define drought. The story was defining it in terms of low reservoirs and ground water, which do take time to recharge, but it was no longer a drought for the plants. This is addressed in classic climatology by the different definitions of drought.

    The same is true of temperature. Average for a growing season is not as important as when the hot and cold spells occur. Variation is still the overlooked variable in weather climate and plant growth.

    A further factor I have discussed elsewhere is the failure to include condensation in the total amount of moisture available for plant growth. One year authorities predicted below average harvest for the Prairies. The yield was at or above average. I examined several stations and discovered that low overnight lows produced significant condensation equal in some locations to 6 cm of moisture for the last two weeks of August, sufficient to “fill out” the crop but not included in the precipitation totals. This is moisture widely and evenly distributed, delivered at ground level so it absorbs quickly, and at night when evaporation and transpiration are low.

    As an aside, one of the problems with weather data is that it is almost always inadequate and specifically collected. This began when pilots in WWI wanted forecasts so weather stations and the data they collect became dominated by the needs of aviation. Many agencies, such as power utilities and forestry collect their own data. In Canada I recently was provided with data from agricultural stations set up because the government data was of little value. Where the data sets coincide there are disturbing differences between them and on initial observation with temperatures always being warmer in the government records.

    So I must respectfully and agreeably disagree with your disagreement.

  237. Tim, many thanks for your agreeable disagreement. I don’t think we disagree that much.

    My main point in all of this is that the temperature depression from volcanoes is local rather than regional, and intermittent rather than constant. It seems that you are saying the same.

    I am interested in your thoughts and claims that the volcanoes affect the Rossby waves. This seems quite likely, given that the main effects seem to be in the more northern regions, and appear to involve the blocking of normal frontal movement.

    My main issue is that the IPCC says that a) change in temperature is equal to change in forcing times climate sensitivity, and that b) climate sensitivity is ~ 0.8°C per watt/metre^2.

    If that is true, then volcanoes should cool the whole planet, and cool it quite strongly … but they don’t. Pinatubo didn’t, Krakatoa didn’t, and even Tambora didn’t. Instead, all of them warmed some areas and cooled others, without a great effect on the planetary average. Or as you say,

    For example, in 1816 the eastern Prairies had record colds and a severe drought that lasted from 1816 to 1819. It was well documented by Hudson’s Bay Company reports, especially by Peter Fidler, who was given thermometers through the Royal Society for his interest and contributions. Western Prairies had no severe cold or drought in 1816, in fact at Fort Chipewyan in the northern regions it was excessively wet. This reflects the pattern in Europe of that year with extreme cold in western Europe and normal conditions in the central and eastern regions.

    One remaining point. You say:

    It is also my experience that crop yields are a relatively poor indicator of the weather and environmental conditions that occurred. For example, in western Canada or any of the grain growing regions, which as natural grassland regions have relatively low precipitation, it is not the amount of precipitation in a year, but when it occurred relative to the plants growth and ripening cycle.

    I would refine that a bit and say that low crop yields are not an indication of any particular kind of bad weather (e.g. low temperature), but (absent insect infestations) they do indicate some kind of bad weather (late frost, water at the wrong time, etc.) … and that high or unchanged crop yields, particularly across the board, are an indication that the weather wasn’t all that bad.

    That was the point I was trying to make above, that if the weather really had been all that bad in 1816 the crop yield would have reflected it, and it didn’t. Not for any type of produce, not for tubers, not for legumes, not for vegetables, not for fruits, not for grains.

    My best to you, keep up the good work,

    w.

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