Are we ready for the next volcanic catastrophe?

Eric Worrall writes: The Guardian has published an unusually interesting article about the danger to our civilisation, of a new Tambora scale volcanic eruption.

Tambora_volc[1]According to Bill McGuire, professor emeritus of geophysical and climate hazards at UCL;

“In April 1815, the biggest known eruption of the historical period blew apart the Tambora volcano, on the Indonesian island of Sumbawa, 12,000km from the UK. What happened next testifies to the enormous reach of the biggest volcanic blasts.

The Tambora volcano had shown no signs of life for 1,000 years; a single eruption in the previous five millennia provided the only indication that magma was still churning far beneath. It is very likely that the residents of the island considered the volcano extinct, and possible even that they did not know the impressive 4,300m (14,107ft) mountain – at the time, probably the highest in the East Indies – was a volcano at all. This all changed, however, with the rumblings and earthquakes of 1812, a full three years before the climactic blast. Over time, the seismic shocks were superseded by steam blasts and small ash explosions, engendering increasing trepidation on the island and signalling that something bigger might be imminent. It was. On 5 April 1815, a titanic explosion hurled a cloud of ash to a height of more than 30km.”

The consequences for the developed societies of the northern hemisphere were dire. A dry, sulphurous, fog draped itself across the landscape of eastern North America, causing temperatures to plunge and bringing unprecedented summer cold. In New York State, snow fell in June, while the bitter cold and killing frosts wiped out crops and halved the length of the growing season across much of the region. On the other side of the Atlantic, Europe saw summer temperatures down by 2C compared to the average for the decade; the unseasonal cold accompanied by incessant rains and – into the following winter – by unusually powerful storms. Analysis of climate records reveals that 1816, the so-called “year without a summer”, was the second coldest in the northern hemisphere of the past six centuries.”

Read more

McGuire adds a minor obligatory genuflection towards climate change, this is after all The Guardian – but unusually for a Guardian story about the environment, the focus of the article is not on the alleged dangers of our industrial output of CO2. And what McGuire says is entirely pertinent – a Tambora style eruption could kill millions of people from starvation, as massive crop failures caused food prices to skyrocket. And Tambora is not the worst which could happen – The Toba eruption, which occurred 74,000 years ago, blackened the sky, causing massive die backs across the world – and may even have almost ended the human race.

McGuire then goes on to list a few of the world’s most dangerous volcanoes – though interestingly the Indonesian volcano Merapi, an unstable giant slumbering adjacent to a city of 3 million people, doesn’t make his list.

These colossal global catastrophes of the past, and the certainty that similar catastrophes will occur again in the future, maybe even in our lifetime, really puts the feeble temperature wobbles which are ascribed to humans into perspective.

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March 28, 2015 9:53 pm

Even the Grudgian can present ernest natural science,- there may still be some hope, then…?

Reply to  Martin Hovland
March 29, 2015 12:24 am

Yes, THERE IS HOPE, as Boeing just patented the plasma shield that can repel the muons that stimulate magma (Ebisuzaki et al 2011):

March 29, 2015 3:35 am

The Washington Post asks for a man-made PLASMA SHIELD too, so the critical number to decide is rising!

Reply to  Martin Hovland
March 29, 2015 2:13 am

I doubt it.
Guardian’s note: Bill McGuire is professor emeritus of geophysical and climate hazards at UCL. His latest book is Waking the Giant: how a Changing Climate Triggers Earthquakes, Tsunamis and Volcanoes, £11.99.) Guardian sells the book with £2.40 discount!
No, Changing climate does not trigger earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanoes.
If anything, it is the other way around.

Pete Ross
Reply to  vukcevic
March 29, 2015 3:41 am

How can a professor of science produce such unscientific suggestions? There’s no way a hypothesised 2C temperature change in the atmosphere can trigger a volcanic eruption or an earthquake. But then may people believe in astrology and Al Gore’s prophecies.

Reply to  vukcevic
March 29, 2015 3:51 am

It is on the book cover
No reasonable person with basic knowledge of geophysics would accept such hypothesis.

Reply to  vukcevic
March 29, 2015 6:15 am

It’s like these people use reverse, compounded Occam’s Razor.

Reply to  vukcevic
March 29, 2015 8:13 am

Bill McGuire wrote the book
Seven Years to Save the Planet: published October 7, 2008.
Things are not working to the schedule, but he still has just over 4 months to save the planet.

Reply to  vukcevic
March 29, 2015 8:47 am

Thank you… Indeed a perfect Grauniad writer…

Les Francis
Reply to  vukcevic
March 30, 2015 4:24 am

Bill McGuire. The go to renta-academic geological disaster commentator. Pops up in many doco’s such as Karakatau doom, Yellowstone doom, Tsunami doom. etc etc.
I saw him once years ago in Telok Betung at the bottom of Sumatera dawdling around with his little bag and camera crew in tow looking for opportune selfie spots. Meanwhile real Vulcanologists such as Mike Rampino were out with the Indonesia Volcano Institute (V.S.I.) staff doing meaningful studies into Krakatau..

Reply to  vukcevic
March 30, 2015 6:52 am
Reply to  vukcevic
March 30, 2015 5:05 pm

You are so right. However, it is amazing how uninformed some people (who should know better) appear to be. I strongly believe this is for some hidden agendas, like money to be made through solar panels or wind turbines. Why would they want to deliberately mislead people? It makes one wonder how much governments and agencies deliberately mislead people too?

Santa Baby
Reply to  vukcevic
April 8, 2015 8:16 pm

It’s simply policy based “science” to promote socialism nationally and globally. Or as they call it Progressive Elightened Liberalism?

March 28, 2015 9:58 pm

Answer to the title’s question: No we aren’t. Much of it due to the fact that almost all cities in the world gone from using tree to hold warm inside flats when cold to different types of heating systems needing energy from sun and wind…. we will have an energy crise within a year or two.

Reply to  norah4you
March 29, 2015 1:17 am

Very large Volcanic eruptions tend to have an effect for a season or two according to the amount of sun cloaking dust it erupts and its location.
Tambora occurred in the middle of an exceptionally cold period that had started around 1807 and became the formative impression for the works of Charles Dickens novels such as ‘A Christmas Carol.’ Temperatures returned to ‘normal’ the year after the eruption.
In CET 1816 was not as cold overall as 1814.
Here is the record for CET with blue indicating the coldest years. Volcanoes are often blamed for climate change as with Dr Mann and the mid 13th century eruption. However, contemporary accounts often show the cold spell had already commenced prior to the eruption.comment image
Let’s not minimise the short term effect however on an interconnected modern world. Excessive cold would put great strain on our power generation and crop growing amongst other factors. Whether that effect would be worse than in past eras where people tended to be more self sufficient would be an interesting and worthwhile paper.

Don K
Reply to  climatereason
March 29, 2015 3:03 am

In CET 1816 was not as cold overall as 1814.

Not as cold in England anyway. FWIW, the last Frost Fair on the frozen Thames was held in 1814 — two years before Tambora. And the Thames apparently has not frozen completely in London since 1814. The entire decade was cold in the Northern Hemisphere and it’s hard to believe that Tambora didn’t make things worse. However, my sense is that the effects of Tambora are substantially overstated. It is well to keep in mind that farming in Northern New England and Canada’s St Lawrence Valley is an iffy proposition even today and that in the 19th century, land was cleared and farmed at higher (colder) elevations than today. In fact, the late 1810s purportedly saw a lot of farmers give up on trying to eeck out a living in Vermont and head West.
ISTR that Willis wrote an article on the Year Without a Summer, but Google isn’t getting me to it. And in any case, Willis used the data he had available from New Haven. Unfortunately, New Haven is pretty far South and is near the Gulf Stream warmed Atlantic. It’s not clear that cold Summer irmasses affecting Vermont and New Hampshire would necessarily reach New Haven without major modification or indeed at all.
Krakatoa — about a third the size of Tambora — in 1883 resulted in a few degrees cooling in the Northern Hemisphere, but nothing like the effects attributed to Tambora which I personally think are probably cherry picked/overstated.
As far as the larger question. Is the world prepared for a large volcanic event. No, not really. But yes, it’ll survive and some (albeit probably inadequate) assistance will find its way to those affected. Some of it in a timely manner.

Reply to  climatereason
March 29, 2015 6:31 am

However, contemporary accounts often show the cold spell had already commenced prior to the eruption.
Willis had an article on volcanoes showing the temps start to drop before the eruption.

Reply to  climatereason
March 29, 2015 11:16 am

My piece was called Missing the Missing Summer.

Sam The First
Reply to  climatereason
March 29, 2015 11:41 am

Dickens was born in 1812.
He published A Christmas Carol in 1843

Reply to  climatereason
March 29, 2015 12:13 pm

Good comments by all – especially that 1814 (pre-Tambora) was very slightly cooler than 1816 (post Tambora).
So back to my main concern, (my 2002 prediction of) imminent global cooling.
Hope to be wrong, but I’ve been correct about all my predictions to date.
In science, perhaps the only objective measure of one’s competence is one’s predictive track record.
Note that the predictive track record of the global warming alarmists (aka warmists) and the IPCC is 100% incorrect –they have no scientific credibility, imo).
Question: Do we still store significant quantities of grain?
Regards, Allan
I predicted global cooling in a 2002 article, excerpted below – see the last sentence. Timing was based on my (then) ~17 years of research, the Gleissberg Cycle and a phone conversation with paleoclimatologist Tim Patterson. If the PDO cycle is a better timing indicator, then cooling could happen sooner.
I do not know if cooling will be moderate or severe, but i believe there is a ~40% probability of severe cooling, sufficient to harm the grain harvest.
I am a professional engineer, and we, as a profession, really hate to be wrong. When we are seriously wrong, bad thing happen to good people, When I write a prediction in an article, it is because I believe it has a high probability of being correct (imnsho). I don’t do this for money, and I don’t do it for fun.
“It is difficult to make predictions, especially about the future”
( attributed to many )
Prediction is also hard on the ego, when one is wrong. That is why so many people are reluctant to do it.
Regards, Allan
Kyoto Hot Air Can’t Replace Fossil Fuels
Allan M.R. MacRae
Calgary Herald
September 1, 2002
If solar activity is the main driver of surface temperature rather than CO2, we should begin the next cooling period by 2020 to 2030.

Reply to  climatereason
March 29, 2015 5:21 pm

Somehow Tambora was linked with a huge amount of ice flushing from the arctic ocean into the Atlantic, resulting in an Arctic Sea with so little ice that, had “Death Spiral” fanatics been alive back then, they would have been going wild. However the the North Atlantic was chilled by such a flood of icebergs that Europe was much colder. We discussed it a little here:
The fact of the matter is that we are just starting to understand the actions and reactions between the sun, atmosphere and seas, even during quiet times. A huge eruption gives all the cycles a jolt, and would utterly screw up carefully crafted models. (Of course it doesn’t help matters that fabulous amounts of time and money are wasted on funding what amounts to balderdash, and messing about with public records with “adjustments.”)

Reply to  climatereason
March 30, 2015 3:11 am

Caleb said:
“(Of course it doesn’t help matters that fabulous amounts of time and money are wasted on funding what amounts to balderdash, and messing about with public records with “adjustments.”)”
Agreed Caleb. The climate models are nonsense. Their proponents justified ridiculously high climate sensitivities to CO2 by fabricating aerosol data to force their models to hindcast the global cooling from ~1940-1975. Then they were able to predict dire false consequences due to severe global warming.
I suggest that these warming alarmists knew exactly what they were doing. This was a scam from Day 1. Why do I believe this was not innocent error? Because nobody in their positions is that stupid.
Regards, Allan
Below is some correspondence with DV Hoyt from 2006 that is worthwhile, imo:
Allan M R MacRae (17:53:04) :
Please see Douglas Hoyt’s post below. He is the same D.V. Hoyt who authored/co-authored the four papers referenced below.
Please note there is historic data available that could be of considerable use.
BUT: “There is no funding to do complete checks.”
Anyone want to take on this challenge?
Suggest tapping into the millions that Obama has allocated for climate modelling to get these modelers some real data on aerosols.
I understand they’ve been inventing aerosol data to get their models to history-match the cooling period from ~1945-1975. Hoyt says so such evidence exists in his data.
Regards, Allan
Douglas Hoyt:
July 22nd, 2006 at 5:37 am
Measurements of aerosols did not begin in the 1970s. There were measurements before then, but not so well organized. However, there were a number of pyrheliometric measurements made and it is possible to extract aerosol information from them by the method described in:
Hoyt, D. V., 1979. The apparent atmospheric transmission using the pyrheliometric ratioing techniques. Appl. Optics, 18, 2530-2531.
The pyrheliometric ratioing technique is very insensitive to any changes in calibration of the instruments and very sensitive to aerosol changes.
Here are three papers using the technique:
Hoyt, D. V. and C. Frohlich, 1983. Atmospheric transmission at Davos, Switzerland, 1909-1979. Climatic Change, 5, 61-72.
Hoyt, D. V., C. P. Turner, and R. D. Evans, 1980. Trends in atmospheric transmission at three locations in the United States from 1940 to 1977. Mon. Wea. Rev., 108, 1430-1439.
Hoyt, D. V., 1979. Pyrheliometric and circumsolar sky radiation measurements by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory from 1923 to 1954. Tellus, 31, 217-229.
In none of these studies were any long-term trends found in aerosols, although volcanic events show up quite clearly. There are other studies from Belgium, Ireland, and Hawaii that reach the same conclusions. It is significant that Davos shows no trend whereas the IPCC models show it in the area where the greatest changes in aerosols were occurring.
There are earlier aerosol studies by Hand and in other in Monthly Weather Review going back to the 1880s and these studies also show no trends.
So when MacRae (#321) says: “I suspect that both the climate computer models and the input assumptions are not only inadequate, but in some cases key data is completely fabricated – for example, the alleged aerosol data that forces models to show cooling from ~1940 to ~1975. Isn’t it true that there was little or no quality aerosol data collected during 1940-1975, and the modelers simply invented data to force their models to history-match; then they claimed that their models actually reproduced past climate change quite well; and then they claimed they could therefore understand climate systems well enough to confidently predict future catastrophic warming?”, he close to the truth.
Douglas Hoyt:
July 22nd, 2006 at 10:37 am
Re #328
“Are you the same D.V. Hoyt who wrote the three referenced papers?” Yes.
“Can you please briefly describe the pyrheliometric technique, and how the historic data samples are obtained?”
The technique uses pyrheliometers to look at the sun on clear days. Measurements are made at air mass 5, 4, 3, and 2. The ratios 4/5, 3/4, and 2/3 are found and averaged. The number gives a relative measure of atmospheric transmission and is insensitive to water vapor amount, ozone, solar extraterrestrial irradiance changes, etc. It is also insensitive to any changes in the calibration of the instruments. The ratioing minimizes the spurious responses leaving only the responses to aerosols.
I have data for about 30 locations worldwide going back to the turn of the century.
Preliminary analysis shows no trend anywhere, except maybe Japan.
There is no funding to do complete checks.

Reply to  climatereason
March 30, 2015 5:17 pm

I think tonyb, people are confused and governments wondering what would happen if temperatures dropped dramatically. Solar and wind would not be good enough, look at poor Venuatu. Cyclone knocked down (no mean feat either) all their wind turbines. But some monster volcanic eruptions like Thera are so large they can cool the planet for up to 7 years and cause famines. In certain areas. Plus our orbit. Australia has several hot spots you know, last one erupted only 5 000 years ago, remember in Aboriginal dreamtime.

Reply to  climatereason
March 30, 2015 7:36 pm

I agree with you – and with Willis’ article – that the climate/weather effects of volcanos are exaggerated. This is linked to an obsessive and blinkered atmosphere-centric view of climate which ignores the oceans. This approach focuses on atmosphere radiation balance and nothing else. It is wrong; the weather comes from the atmosphere, climate is from the ocean.

Reply to  climatereason
March 31, 2015 7:09 am

Before big volcanic eruptions, several smaller precede (not well recorded), rising clouding-cooling.

Reply to  climatereason
March 31, 2015 2:43 pm

typo corrected:
I understand they’ve been inventing aerosol data to get their models to history-match the cooling period from ~1945-1975. Hoyt says NO such evidence exists in his data.

Reply to  norah4you
March 29, 2015 7:46 am

So it is the climate (cold onset) that causes volcanic eruptions. So in the next 20 years or so of cooling…….

Reply to  BFL
March 29, 2015 8:52 am

No the other way round. Those who haven’t a slightest idea of what Techtonical plates is and why volcanic eruptions occurs, they have better go to nearest University Liberary look in Geologic dept.

Reply to  BFL
March 29, 2015 11:11 am

I think BFL omitted the /Sarc tag.
BFL – if my error, apologies, just I could have written that – and, yeah, for sure the /Sarc tag would be needed . . . . .

Reply to  BFL
March 30, 2015 5:20 pm

Before the end of the last ice age say around 10,000 years, the islands of Japan had no permanent settlement, it was highly tectonic, seismic and volcanic. More than it is today. Maybe gravity has something to do with it too.

Reply to  norah4you
March 30, 2015 5:09 pm

Can you explain that more clearly. Possibly they don’t believe sun and wind are the answer.
In fact if we are not 100% dependent on these sources of energy then our stations can not just switch up and off when required and it can cause outages.

March 28, 2015 9:59 pm

We should stock up on all the latent heat we can get.
It baffles me why some groups don’t want a warm green planet.

Reply to  Dave
March 28, 2015 10:10 pm

Because they’re all about power and creating an Orwellian Hunger games world government whereby their old money offspring can revel in luxury while the rest of the serfs do what they’re told in a tight control grid.
It’s nothing to do with preventing any supposed climate catastrophe.

Reply to  sabretruthtiger
March 28, 2015 10:29 pm

I believe it’s because they can’t think for themselves and feel compelled to believe what the “experts” tell them.

March 28, 2015 10:00 pm

The possibility of an event in my lifetime that could cause “temperatures to plunge” makes me worry even less about a degree or two of global warming.

March 28, 2015 10:29 pm

Oh, good. We’re still doomed.
I was beginnig to get worried for a bit.

Reply to  RoHa
March 29, 2015 5:23 am

Now that was funny!

Reply to  RoHa
March 29, 2015 5:33 am

Create a hypothetical and make sure fear is the theme. A sure seller.

Eugene WR Gallun
Reply to  RoHa
March 29, 2015 6:10 am

Nice one.
Eugene WR Gallun

Mac the Knife
March 28, 2015 10:30 pm

Fire and ice…. it’s the only world we have.
Best learn to adapt…..

Paul Westhaver
Reply to  Mac the Knife
March 28, 2015 10:52 pm

So weird… I watched a musical about Bobby Darin (Mac the Knife fame) tonight, followed by a documentary about Krakatoa 1883. Coincidences.

Reply to  Paul Westhaver
March 29, 2015 11:15 am

I don’t care much about musicals but the documentary I would have liked to have been able to see ( I surf but I do not surf Sat TV ( what channel? There might be a repeat, thanks).

Paul Westhaver
Reply to  Paul Westhaver
March 29, 2015 8:14 pm


March 28, 2015 10:51 pm

Yellowstone worse again.
Siberian Traps at the end of the Permian worse again.
I like the “12,000km from the UK”.
Its also about 200km from Waingapu, Sumba. And a million km from the moon. Big deal.

The Ghost Of Big Jim Cooley
Reply to  thingadonta
March 29, 2015 1:51 am

The article is merely stating the large distance from the UK (being as it is a UK newspaper). Guardian readers aren’t very bright, so they have to be reminded just where in the world these locations are, or rather how far away they are. By the way, it’s 384,000 km from the Moon.

Reply to  The Ghost Of Big Jim Cooley
March 29, 2015 10:09 am

TGOBJCooley: 384,000 km centre to centre or face to face? I have always wondered,
Oh never mind. I looked it up – average of 384,500 km centre to centre, and of interest, the moon’s orbit is close to the ecliptic of the orbit of the earth around the sun, it does not orbit about the equator of the earth. The moon affects the orbit of the earth, and I imagine the moon’s ecliptic and elliptic orbit creates all sorts of interesting forces on the earth bringing large tides and geotechnical stresses to the northern hemisphere for part of its orbit, and the southern hemisphere. for part.
Thanks for the comment as I went searching and re-learned some things I was taught in school 50 years ago but had long forgotten.
“On average, the Moon is about 238,800 miles (384,500 km) from the Earth. However, because of the elliptical shape of the Moon’s orbit, the actual distance varies throughout the year, between 225,804 miles (363,396 km) at the perigee and 251,968 miles (405,504 km) at the apogee.”
Now just wait till “Mars” runs into us:
Thanks for the little excursion.
I think I will blame the moon, especially the blue moon, the harvest moon, the new moon and the full moon 😉

Eyal Porat
March 28, 2015 11:03 pm

Another doomsday story.
In History channel and Discovery they have these almost on a daily basis .
The chances of seeing something like this in our lifetime is minuscule, so again, the compulsory scare stories since the AGW is losing it tracks.

Reply to  Eyal Porat
March 29, 2015 1:42 am

Except that there may be a common denominator between then and now. Tambora erupted during the Dalton GM. The Laki Fires happened just prior to the onset of the Dalton. The New Madrid fault had multiple large events between 1811/12 during the Dalton. The four known older large quakes on the New Madrid were in 1699, the end of the Maunder. Then 1450, the beginning of the Sporer, and then 900 which is during the MWP., but the JG/U graph clearly shows a sharp drop which could be a gm. That one was a quick moderate drop that looks like it only lasts around 15 years before returning to warming. Then there is a quake listed as approximately around 300 AD. On the JG/U 2K graph at around 290 AD and lasting a full 60 years into the mid 300s there is a deep plunge which looks similar to the Maunder. Also, several of the big Mexican volcanoes had large eruptions during the Dalton as did some other well known volcanoes. And here we are close to the next grand minimum. The next 20 years could be a period of above normal activity.

The Ghost Of Big Jim Cooley
Reply to  Eyal Porat
March 29, 2015 1:58 am

Eyal, you are most definitely incorrect! I find this type of ignorance astounding. Your ‘lifetime’ is likely 80 years, and you stand a very good chance of living through a large volcanic eruption. You even stand a good chance of a decent-sized impact from space – since they happen around 100 years apart or so. Your chance of living during a large eruption is rated as “High” by McGuire:

Eyal Porat
Reply to  The Ghost Of Big Jim Cooley
March 29, 2015 10:36 pm

Ghost, I am referring to “super volcanoes” and such.
I am old enough to have lived during 92’s Pinatubo eruption which resulted in the most extreme winter ever recorded in Israel.
Again, I am referring to these “End of the World” scenarios like an eruption of the Yellowstone caldera and such.

Reply to  The Ghost Of Big Jim Cooley
March 30, 2015 3:17 pm

Eyal Porat March 29, 2015 at 10:36 pm

Ghost, I am referring to “super volcanoes” and such.
I am old enough to have lived during 92’s Pinatubo eruption which resulted in the most extreme winter ever recorded in Israel.

Let me offer this up as a wonderful example of why data talks and anecdote walks. It is just this kind of story that keeps the “volcanoes affect global climate” meme alive. Here’s the Berkeley Earth data for Israel.comment image
(NOTE: Incorrect graphic was supplied, text updated to match the corrected graphic above. I also had omitted the link to the Berkeley Earth data.)
The winter of that year was a cold winter, but it was by no means a record. It was easily beaten by 1988-89 among other years, and was only the fourth coldest year since 1920.
Sadly, the volcano claims all seem to evaporate in just the same way when they are examined closely. Here is my best estimate of volcanoes:
Eruptions DO affect the weather, but the effects are limited in both time and space. In general, they do not leave a detectable temperature signature in areas removed from the volcano, or on the global temperature.
As an example of the lack of a detectable signature, take a look at the Israel temperatures in the figure. There were several eruptions during that time. Could you pick them out without knowing their dates?
My best to you,
FURTHER: Here’s my research into the question:
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Reply to  Eyal Porat
March 29, 2015 4:44 am

I recently watched a documentary on the History Channel (UK) about what would have happened if aliens would have joined the first World War. The schedule on Discovery Science is increasingly taken up with programmes on ghosts and UFOs. Obviously with such scientific rigour, their audiences should impeccably trust their pronouncements on ‘climate change’ and ‘extreme weather’..

Reply to  JJB MKI
March 29, 2015 6:24 am

There’s a lot of crackpot “science” around. Just have a listen to the extremely popular overnight radio program ‘Coast to Coast’, which is hosted by a highly credulous individual (either highly credulous or willing to believe anything in exchange for money and fame).

Phil R
Reply to  JJB MKI
March 29, 2015 10:59 am

jjB MKI,
With respect, I’ve been watching those shows too, with my two kids. I don’t know how old you are, but I’m old enough to remember Leonard Nimoy’s “In search of…” series that looked at UFOs, Big Foot, and a lot of other stuff almost 40 years ago. I even read “Chariots of the Gods” in elementary school, but still somehow managed enjoy it without believing it was 100 per cent accurate or true. They’re just rehashing a lot of the same “mysteries” for the newest generation that have always got people’s attention. It was mindless entertainment then, and mindless entertainment now, but that’s all it is (or should be).
I enjoy watching these shows with my kids and pointing out the weasel words, caveats, unfounded assumptions, etc. and how afterwards the only way they can build the story is to assume the wild assumptions are true (and not look at any other possible explanations). Hopefully, I’m doing my small part to produce the next generation of skeptics. Then again, both my parents grew up during the depression and lived through WWII and the Korean War and maybe my upbringing was a little more reality-based than a lot of kids of today.

Reply to  Eyal Porat
March 31, 2015 12:12 pm

“Man caused disaster” is more likely. The Iranian leadership is rather apocalyptic…

March 28, 2015 11:52 pm

Doom and gloom no matter what the “Guardian” writes. Yes an eruption of that magnitude is terrifying but in 2015 I would hope the availability of that good old oil and gas would surely help us survive. It is not as if every pipeline, oil tanker and refinery would be affected by this. Existing food stores and the ability to grow them in greenhouses under lights would not stop either. Yes again it would adversely affect and possibly kill millions but then, is that already not happening these days? By not giving them that opportunity today? Give those people that chance and help them prepare, improve and make them better at the same level as us!

March 28, 2015 11:54 pm

Actually we have had a remarkably long period without a major volcanic eruption – 24 years since Mt Pinatubo. “The many small eruptions” that has supposedly caused “the Pause” being invisible to all except true believers.

March 29, 2015 12:24 am

Iwo Jima is a prettty good candidate for a “big one.”

Tom in Florida
Reply to  sophocles
March 29, 2015 9:36 am

Mt Suribachi is only a little over 500 feet so not so much to worry aobut.

Reply to  Tom in Florida
March 30, 2015 1:30 am

“Mt Suribachi is only a little over 500 teet so not so much to worry about.”
MT Suribachi is the top of a quote: “dormant vent of a still active volcano.” It’s height of 163m (500feet) is it’s height above sea level. Iwo Jima is a huge submarine volcano, the peak of which reached the surface some time ago. It’s part of the Izu-Marianas arc of volcanic islands.. The volcano itself is probably 3 or more thousand metres high from the sea floor. 163 metres above the surface of the ocean at one of the deepest places in the Pacific—the Mariana Trench—doesn’t exactly instil confidence that “there’s nothing to worry about.”.
The island has shown 10m of uplift since 1952 (just over 15cm of uplift per year) which is attributed to “resurgent doming.”—magma rising pushing the caldera up.
The summit of the island has been rising for the past 700 years. The rate of uplift has ranged from 10cm per year to 80cm per year with an average rate of 25cm per year. Mt Suribachi is a small peak poking out of a 9km ( 5.5mile) wide caldera mostly just sub surface.
It’s had 10 minor eruptions in the last century (effectively sneezes). These have been described as “phreatic” meaning water reaching magma. Water and magma getting together suddenly and in quantity create enormous pyroclastic explosions. Like Krakatau, Tambora, Thera, Taupo and many others. These are the biggies.
The summit of the island has been rising for the past 700 years. The rate of uplift has ranged from 10cm per year to 80cm per year with an average rate of 25cm per year. Mt Suribachi is a small peak poking out of a 9km ( 5.5mile) wide caldera mostly just sub surface.
FWIW, McGuire rates Laguna del Maule (Chile) as his Number 1 risk. It’s
“currently inflating at the astonishing rate of 25cm a year,”
“Not much to worry about” says Tom in Florida. We can hope.

Reply to  Tom in Florida
March 30, 2015 2:26 am

“Mt Suribachi is only a little over 500 feet so not so much to worry about.”
I’m curious about that conclusion. 500 feet above the waves is not so much to worry about?
That 500 feet is the height above the surface of the Pacific Ociean IJ’s highest point wich is thought to be a dormant vent.
IJ is a volcano in the Izu Marianas group of volcanic islands on the edge of the Marianas Trench. The island is probably over 3000metres high from the floor of the Pacific Ocean. The Trench itself is over 4000m deep.
IJ’s caldera has been rising for over 700 years at a variable rate from about 10cm per year to 80 cm per year with an average rate of 25cm per year. The current rate is about 15cm per year ( = 10m since 1952) A beach Captain Cook’s surveying expedition (1776-1779) rlanded on, is now 40m above sealevel. The rise is attributed to resurgent doming (magma rising in a magma chamber).
it’s active with a history of minor activity. Most of these eruptions are described as “phreatic” meaning water is reaching magma.
That could be signs of a build up to a biggie. If the cone is faulted and water can reach the magma, then should those faults cause a side of the cone to collapse, then it’s another Krakatau or Tambora, or Thera, or Taupo etc —a huge pyroclastic explosion.
But that’s not so much to worry about. Japan’s only 1200kms away.

March 29, 2015 12:27 am

Some excitement about Chile’s Villarrica Volcano. Picture in the link.

March 29, 2015 12:36 am

It seems that in these modern times that a good “scientific” scare story is a real seller. People love to be frightened and those old vampire scare stories are so old time. Now we can dream of starving in the dark! But it is now scientific!

March 29, 2015 12:46 am

Clean air act has taken a lot of sulphur out of the air-thus risen the temperature. How much of the 0,5 degrees (C) global rise since -50 is due to the clean air act?

Berényi Péter
March 29, 2015 1:14 am

a Tambora style eruption could kill millions of people from starvation, as massive crop failures caused food prices to skyrocket

True, billions even. That’s why a prudent government is oblidged to keep food stockpiles for seven years, for there shall arise after them seven years of famine. That’s the word of God.
On the other hand, currently the entire world is run on 3 months worth of food reserves, like there’s no tomorrow.
In this respect the situation was better during the Cold War, but after that reserves were sold off and the system was turned to JIT.
Should scarcity arise, there’s no cap on food prices, people would sell everything to buy food and keep themselves alive just a little bit longer. Also, with most other goods, as soon as the scarcity is over, economy recovers fast. However, it is not so after an extended famine. No immediate recovery is possible with a deceased workforce.
Famine is the perfect breeding ground for the other three Horsemen of Apocalypse, plague, war &. death.

jim heath
Reply to  Berényi Péter
March 29, 2015 1:26 pm

Most of the food is stored along the river front at almost sea level. 3M sea rise will wipe out most refrigeration warehouses, have a nice day.

Joel O’Bryan
Reply to  jim heath
March 29, 2015 8:46 pm

10 feet of sea rise in less than a year comes from where Jim? Your fervent brainwashed imagination no doubt. Go back to SKS where your kind of stupidity is welcome.

March 29, 2015 1:14 am

The ice ages and the frequency of volcanic eruptions may be related. The pressure pulse caused when sea level falls and rises seems to influence the pressure regime in magma chambers.

Reply to  Fernando Leanme
March 29, 2015 11:52 am

The tides would seem to account for most of he UK’s volcanism, then, it would appear.
{Mod – sorry – left the /Sarc off the relevant line.]
Whilst the fall and rise of sea level, and concomitant pressure changes, may have an effect, it would be good to know how to quantify that, to even an order of magnitude.
And, as asybot March 28, 2015 at 11:52 pm prognosticates, whilst we have coal, oil, gas, nuclear, peat, etc., in the mix, many – maybe most – might muddle through. I’d probably be a lot slimmer . . . .
Dependence on solar – if there is a bad diminution of sunlight – and wind, if there is a general stilling of the pressure systems, will rather make fatalities increase.
Are there any surviving pressure charts from the Tamboran fogs? I guess none of any real use; just, maybe, isolated pressure readings. Nothing to support or otherwise ‘a general stilling of the pressure systems’.
Does anyone still have Asimov’s ‘A Choice of Catastrophes’ (I t h i n k )?; an interesting canter through the various possible [if not likely!] ways humanity could get pushed towards extinction. Worth a whizz through on a wet Wednesday.
Auto – not cowering in a corner with a flash light and a dozen cans of beans.

March 29, 2015 1:32 am

They forgot to add Krakatoa to the list. It was known to be the loudest explosion, heard over 3000 miles away. There were also claims of 5 years of colder than normal weather around the globe. I remember hearing about this explosion when I was a child. There were “four enormous explosions” on August 27, 1883.
“Barographic recordings show that the shock wave from the final explosion reverberated around the globe seven times in total.[3] Ash was propelled to an estimated height of 80 km (50 mi).”

March 29, 2015 1:48 am

It is an interesting article from historical perspective. To sell the book ‘scare story’ aspect is greatly exaggerated. Volcano that has not erupted previously for more than 1000 years, it is not going to erupt again with the same force and energy 150 years later. Since there is no mention if the Mt Tambora is monitored with seismic instruments, keeping an eye on the mountain’s heartbeat, the ‘scare’ aspect is not based on the current reality.
(Guardian’s note: Bill McGuire is professor emeritus of geophysical and climate hazards at UCL. His latest book is Waking the Giant: how a Changing Climate Triggers Earthquakes, Tsunamis and Volcanoes, £11.99.) Guardian sells the book with £2.40 discount!
No Changing Climate does not trigger earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanoes.
If anything it is the other way around.

k. kilty
Reply to  vukcevic
March 29, 2015 10:07 am

A changing climate sells disaster books.

William Astley
March 29, 2015 2:00 am

Large volcanic eruptions correlate with deep solar magnetic cycle minimums. There is an increase in volcanic eruptions when the solar magnetic cycle slows down. The very large volcanic eruptions occur when the solar magnetic tries to restart. We have already experience the increase in volcanic activityand earthquake activity that is associated with the slowdown of the solar cycle (2010 for example there was a threefold increase in volcanic activity in Indonesia.)
The period of initial heighten activity (earthquakes and volcanic activity) is over. There has very recently been a significant reduction in earthquake activity. We are going to have a chance to watch the mechanisms live. We are going to first experience Dansgaard-Oeschger cooling and then when the solar magnetic cycle attempts to restart Heinrich event type cooling. Very, very large volcanic eruption correlate with the restart of the solar magnetic cycle and with geomagnetic excursions.
P.S. Salby has quantified based on a detailed analysis of recent changes in planetary temperature which directly correlates with atmospheric CO2 levels (CO2 levels changes follow, rather than lead planetary temperature changes which supports the assertion that significant portion of the recent rise in atmospheric CO2 is due to the increase in temperature rather than anthropogenic CO2 emissions) that 0 to 30% of the recent increase in atmospheric CO2 is due to anthropogenic emissions. We are also going to have a chance to watch observations/mechanisms unfold to disprove the entire set of IPCC assertions.
“Volcanic eruptions and solar activity” by Richard Stothers….9417371S

The historical record of large volcanic eruptions from 1500 to 1980 is subjected to detailed time series analysis. In two weak but probably statistically significant periodicities of about 11 and 80 yr, the frequency of volcanic eruptions increases (decreases) slightly around the times of solar minimum (maximum). Time series analysis of the volcanogenic acidities in a deep ice core from Greenland reveals several very long periods ranging from about 80 to about 350 yr which are similar to the very slow solar cycles previously detected in auroral and C-14 records. Solar flares may cause changes in atmospheric circulation patterns that abruptly alter the earth’s spin. The resulting jolt probably triggers small earthquakes which affect volcanism. (My comment. This mechanism guess is not correct.)

This paper is not asking the correct questions. Volcanic eruptions only result in cooling for a couple of years. The question they should have asked to determine the mechanisms is: What physical change causes there to be suddenly an increase in volcanic activity all over the earth (i.e. both hemisphere)? Magma chambers change due to local conditions, based on the current assumed mechanisms. There is no current mechanism that would suddenly cause there to be an increase in volcanic activity all over the planet.
The abrupt cooling events are followed by sustained cold periods of hundreds of years. Volcanic eruptions cannot and do not cause the planet to cool and stay cold for hundreds of years.
The restart of the solar magnetic cycle causes geomagnetic excursions which is the reason for the hundreds of years of cooling. It is the mechanism that causes there to a geomagnetic excursion (massive movement of electrical charge for the ionosphere to the earth’s surface that both cause geomagnetic excursions and large volcanic eruptions.

Analyzing data from our optical dust logger, we find that volcanic ash layers from the Siple Dome (Antarctica) borehole are simultaneous (with >99% rejection of the null hypothesis) with the onset of millennium-timescale cooling recorded at Greenland Ice Sheet Project 2 (GISP2; Greenland). These data are the best evidence yet for a causal connection between volcanism and millennial climate change and lead to possibilities of a direct causal relationship. Evidence has been accumulating for decades that volcanic eruptions can perturb climate and possibly affect it on long timescales and that volcanism may respond to climate change. If rapid climate change can induce volcanism, this result could be further evidence of a southern-lead North–South climate asynchrony. Alternatively, a volcanic-forcing viewpoint is of particular interest because of the high correlation and relative timing of the events, and it may involve a scenario in which volcanic ash and sulfate abruptly increase the soluble iron in large surface areas of the nutrient-limited Southern Ocean, stimulate growth of phytoplankton, which enhance volcanic effects on planetary albedo and the global carbon cycle, and trigger northern millennial cooling. Large global temperature swings could be limited by feedback within the volcano–climate system.

The Role of Explosive Volcanism During the Cool Maunder Minimum
The Dalton Minimum was a period of low solar activity, named for the English meteorologist John Dalton, lasting from about 1790 to 1830.[1] Like the Maunder Minimum and Spörer Minimum, the Dalton Minimum coincided with a period of lower-than-average global temperatures. The Oberlach Station in Germany, for example, experienced a 2.0° C decline over 20 years.[2] The Year Without a Summer, in 1816, also occurred during the Dalton Minimum. The precise cause of the lower-than-average temperatures during this period is not well understood. Recent papers have suggested that a rise in volcanism was largely responsible for the cooling trend.[3] (William: The authors of this paper and the other papers do not understand the mechanisms. The solar changes causes the abrupt change to the geomagnetic field intensity and also causes the abrupt increase in large volcanic activity. The sustained cooling period as noted above is due to the geomagnetic field change not due to volcanic eruptions.)

Reply to  William Astley
March 29, 2015 2:29 am

I wonder if this recent paper is relevant to the discussion: :
“Glacial cycles drive variations in the production of oceanic crust
Glacial cycles redistribute water between oceans and continents, causing pressure changes in the upper mantle, with consequences for the melting of Earth’s interior. Using Plio-Pleistocene sea-level variations as a forcing function, theoretical models of mid-ocean ridge dynamics that include melt transport predict temporal variations in crustal thickness of hundreds of meters. New bathymetry from the Australian-Antarctic ridge shows statistically significant spectral energy near the Milankovitch periods of 23, 41, and 100 thousand years, which is consistent with model predictions. These results suggest that abyssal hills, one of the most common bathymetric features on Earth, record the magmatic response to changes in sea level. The models and data support a link between glacial cycles at the surface and mantle melting at depth, recorded in the bathymetric fabric of the sea floor.”

Reply to  mikewaite
March 29, 2015 5:45 am

March 29, 2015 at 2:29 am
“I wonder if this recent paper is relevant to the discussion: :
“Glacial cycles drive variations in the production of oceanic crust.””
According to the abstract it seems to be relevant, indeed.
I would have liked to have access to the full text,,,,,,seems very interesting.
It may just show the connection of earths geothermal energy and its variation with the climate atmosphere variation (change).
It will be very interesting indeed to as a discussion topic.
Especially in connection with M. cycles and the length of the glacial periods…

Reply to  William Astley
March 29, 2015 4:02 am

“Explosive volcanic eruptions triggered by cosmic rays: Volcano as a bubble chamber” – Ebisuzaki et al

Chris Wright
March 29, 2015 2:39 am

Bill McGuire is the worst kind of global warming fanatic. By chance, several years ago I came across a youtube in which this man compared sceptics to holocaust deniers. Her should be ashamed.
Apart from anything else, he insulted the only scientist to walk on the moon, and the engineer who built the first aircraft to fly non-stop around the world.
Still, having to rely on poisonous insults is a sure sign that he has no valid scientific arguments to prove his case.

Mark from the Midwest
March 29, 2015 3:29 am

Doom and Gloom sells! It would be odd for any news (sic) outlet, especially the Guardian, to have a headline like “Chance of devastating globally geophysical event in the next 50 years is minimal”

Bruce Cobb
March 29, 2015 4:06 am

Let’s see, a Warmunist rag asks the question “are we ready”? And what is the one thing mankind would most certainly need even more of during such a disaster? Why, I do believe that would be cheap, readily-available energy and the vibrant economies that accompanies it. But, Warmunism opposes that very thing which mankind would need most.

March 29, 2015 4:10 am

Vilfredo Pareto, Italian polymath of the turn of the previous century, and his power law probability distribution of geophysical phenomena, see Pareto Distribution, continues to protect and inform.
Coincidentally, I recently noticed Pareto frequently cited in Karl Popper’s The Open Society and Its Enemies. Popper, the father of falsification-ism.

March 29, 2015 4:38 am

Taupo (Toe Pour) in New Zealand, now a lake, was bigger than any of these erruptions by several orders of magnitude.

Sturgis Hooper
March 29, 2015 4:42 am

Doesn’t manmade CO2 cause volcanic mega eruptions?
Sarc mode to standby.

March 29, 2015 4:50 am

McGuire, huh?
Don’t you understand, what I’m trying to say?
And Can’t you feel the fear that I’m feeling today?
If the button is pushed, there’s no running away,
There’ll be no one to save with the world in a grave,
Take a look around you, boy, it’s bound to scare you, boy,
But you tell me over and over and over again my friend,
Ah, you don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction.

Reply to  Gamecock
March 29, 2015 8:43 am

That was Barry McGuire wasn’t it?

Reply to  skeohane
March 29, 2015 12:17 pm

Barry McGuigan, surely? refers
Of course, the diamond standard Wikipedia, that even I can comment on.

Alan McIntire
March 29, 2015 4:54 am

I have questions about that endangering human race issue. If Toba affected WORLDWIDE temperatures and drove the human race nearly to extinction, wouldn’t most OTHER mammals also have suffered equally? I don’t think there’s a record of a GENERAL mammal bottleneck 74,000 years ago.

Reply to  Alan McIntire
March 29, 2015 5:40 am

But I thought that women and children were the worst affected by these kinds of disasters. Apparently men, dogs and cats get along much better.

Steve from Rockwood
March 29, 2015 5:49 am

So do I tick the box “accept volcanic eruption insurance” or do I take my chances? Celebrating Earth Day was so much easier. Except for the hangover.

March 29, 2015 5:58 am

Oh to be born without a conscience! Let me write volumes of scare stories based on how man is destroying his self. And may the royalties be never ending. The unwashed masses lined up to offer a penitence for the sin of existence. The beckoning call of my private jet and yacht stand ready, just in case, to whisk me away from impending disaster. A daring adventure awaits, perhaps to row across the ice free Artic ocean or measure the acidic oceans in some far away place like Tahiti. Oh the acclaim! The adulation! Perhaps a Nobel prize.

Reply to  rishrac
March 29, 2015 12:22 pm

Or a share of a Nobel.
Or a contribution towards same.
Or writing something vaguely pertinent, in the same (or similar) decade
Note – I am a Nobel-winner, being (I did not say ‘happily and enthusiastically’) an EU Resident when the EU won a gong for – oh whatever it was that jumped out at the jury . . . . . . .
Mods – default mode, these days – is /Sarc . . .
Auto, still refining my Nobel acceptance speech

Steve from Rockwood
March 29, 2015 5:59 am

More excerpts from McGuire’s excellent science book on climate “Waking the Giant”…
“The initial Tambora eruption was so powerful that it caused the American’s to attack the Canadians in the war of 1812. Luckily (for Canada) several Newfoundlanders were visiting Toronto at the time and lent the military their seal clubs allowing Canada to beat back the Americans to their borders and beyond. Newfoundland would later join Canada in confederation in 1949 with Canada eventually stripping the Newfs of their seal clubs for fear of a similar fate on off-shore oil & gas revenue sharing.”
So it’s not just an accurate science book. It’s also an accurate history text.

Reply to  Steve from Rockwood
March 29, 2015 6:37 am

Newfies create mayhem wherever they go clubbing.

Reply to  Steve from Rockwood
March 29, 2015 7:51 am

The Treaty of Ghent was signed on 24th December 1814. Tambora errupted in April 1815.

Steve from Rockwood
Reply to  AJB
March 29, 2015 8:42 am

Those Americans. Showing up early to a war…

March 29, 2015 6:31 am

It’s a little foretaste of the imminent end of the current interglacial and average drop in temp of -6C for 100,000 years.

John of Cloverdale, WA, Australia
March 29, 2015 6:33 am

Sinabung, a volcano near Lake Toba supervolcano has become active since late 2014 after a long dormant phase. If Lake Toba, goes then it would be devastating for South East Asia.

March 29, 2015 6:35 am

Why is it that there appears to be a prevalent thought in today’s world that a mega disaster like a supervolcano eruption or other similar disaster won’t or can’t happen in our lifetimes? It seems that many people (including some prominent scientists) do everything in their power to explain away this possibility. I think we are relaying too much on computer forecasts, and our acquired modern day knowledge, which may be giving us a false sense of security. The same applies to the possibility of another “Little Ice Age” that we may be soon entering.
In my humble opinion we should let history be our guide and pay more attention to what has happened in the past…even the recent past. Because those of us who forget the lessons of the past are doomed to repeat them.
Perhaps these three recent events should serve as a warning.
1. Mount Pinatubo June 15, 1991.
The volcano’s Plinian / Ultra-Plinian eruption on 15 June 1991 produced the second largest terrestrial eruption of the 20th century after the 1912 eruption of Novarupta in the Alaska Peninsula. The effects of the eruption were felt worldwide. It ejected roughly 10,000,000,000 tonnes (1.1×1010 short tons) or 10 km3 (2.4 cu mi) of magma, and 20,000,000 tonnes (22,000,000 short tons) SO
bringing vast quantities of minerals and metals to the surface environment. It injected more particulate into the stratosphere than any eruption since Krakatoa in 1883. Over the following months, the aerosols formed a global layer of sulfuric acid haze. Global temperatures dropped by about 0.5 °C (0.9 °F) in the years 1991-93,[7] and ozone depletion temporarily increased substantially. A reported 847 people were killed by the eruption, mostly by roofs collapsing under the weight of accumulated wet ash, a hazard amplified by the simultaneous arrival of Typhoon Yunya.
2. Indian Ocean Earthquake and Tsunami December 26, 2004.
The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake occurred at 00:58:53 UTC on 26 December with an epicentre off the west coast of Sumatra, Indonesia. The event is known by the scientific community as the Sumatra–Andaman earthquake.[6][7] The resulting tsunami was given various names, including the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, South Asian tsunami, Indonesian tsunami, the Christmas tsunami and the Boxing Day tsunami.
The undersea megathrust earthquake was caused when the Indian Plate was subducted by the Burma Plate and triggered a series of devastating tsunamis along the coasts of most landmasses bordering the Indian Ocean, killing 230,000 people in 14 countries, and inundating coastal communities with waves up to 30 metres (100 ft) high.[8] It was one of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history. Indonesia was the hardest-hit country, followed by Sri Lanka, India, and Thailand.
With a magnitude of Mw 9.1–9.3, it is the third-largest earthquake ever recorded on a seismograph. The earthquake had the longest duration of faulting ever observed, between 8.3 and 10 minutes.[9] It caused the entire planet to vibrate as much as 1 centimetre (0.4 inches)[10] and triggered other earthquakes as far away as Alaska.[11] Its epicentre was between Simeulue and mainland Indonesia.[12] The plight of the affected people and countries prompted a worldwide humanitarian response. In all, the worldwide community donated more than $14 billion (2004 US$) in humanitarian aid.[13]
According to the U.S. Geological Survey a total of 227,898 people died (see table below for details).[1] Measured in lives lost, this is one of the ten worst earthquakes in recorded history, as well as the single worst tsunami in history. Indonesia was the worst affected area, with most death toll estimates at around 170,000.[56] However, another report by Siti Fadilah Supari, the Indonesian Minister of Health at the time, estimated the death total to be as high as 220,000 in Indonesia alone, giving a total of 280,000 casualties.[4]
3. Tōhoku Earthquake and Tsunami March 11, 2011.
The 2011 earthquake off the Pacific coast of Tōhoku (東北地方太平洋沖地震 Tōhoku-chihō Taiheiyō Oki Jishin?) was a magnitude 9.0 (Mw) undersea megathrust earthquake off the coast of Japan that occurred at 14:46 JST (05:46 UTC) on Friday 11 March 2011,[2][3][8] with the epicentre approximately 70 kilometres (43 mi) east of the Oshika Peninsula of Tōhoku and the hypocenter at an underwater depth of approximately 30 km (19 mi).[2][9] The earthquake is also often referred to in Japan as the Great East Japan earthquake (東日本大震災 Higashi nihon daishinsai?)[10][11][12][fn 1] and also known as the 2011 Tohoku earthquake,[13] and the 3.11 earthquake.
It was the most powerful earthquake ever recorded to have hit Japan, and the fourth most powerful earthquake in the world since modern record-keeping began in 1900.[8][14][15] The earthquake triggered powerful tsunami waves that reached heights of up to 40.5 metres (133 ft) in Miyako in Tōhoku’s Iwate Prefecture,[16][17] and which, in the Sendai area, travelled up to 10 km (6 mi) inland.[18] The earthquake moved Honshu (the main island of Japan) 2.4 m (8 ft) east and shifted the Earth on its axis by estimates of between 10 cm (4 in) and 25 cm (10 in),[19][20][21] and generated sound waves detected by the low-orbiting GOCE satellite.[22]
On 10 March 2015, a Japanese National Police Agency report confirmed 15,891 deaths,[23] 6,152 injured,[24] and 2,584 people missing[25] across twenty prefectures, as well as 228,863 people living away from their home in either temporary housing or due to permanent relocation.[26] A February 10, 2014 agency report listed 127,290 buildings totally collapsed, with a further 272,788 buildings ‘half collapsed’, and another 747,989 buildings partially damaged.[27] The earthquake and tsunami also caused extensive and severe structural damage in north-eastern Japan, including heavy damage to roads and railways as well as fires in many areas, and a dam collapse.[18][28] Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said, “In the 65 years after the end of World War II, this is the toughest and the most difficult crisis for Japan.”[29] Around 4.4 million households in northeastern Japan were left without electricity and 1.5 million without water.[30]
The tsunami caused nuclear accidents, primarily the level 7 meltdowns at three reactors in the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant complex, and the associated evacuation zones affecting hundreds of thousands of residents.[31][32] Many electrical generators were taken down, and at least three nuclear reactors suffered explosions due to hydrogen gas that had built up within their outer containment buildings after cooling system failure resulting from the loss of electrical power. Residents within a 20 km (12 mi) radius of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant and a 10 km (6.2 mi) radius of the Fukushima Daini Nuclear Power Plant were evacuated. In addition, the U.S. recommended that its citizens evacuate everyone within up to 80 km (50 mi) of the plant.[33]
Early estimates placed insured losses from the earthquake alone at US$14.5 to $34.6 billion.[34] The Bank of Japan offered ¥15 trillion (US$183 billion) to the banking system on 14 March in an effort to normalize market conditions.[35] The World Bank’s estimated economic cost was US$235 billion, making it the costliest natural disaster in world history.[36][37]

March 29, 2015 6:35 am

The take away from this entire post for me is that there are still so many mysteries about the earth that will confound the human mind for years to come. All fascinating stuff. Thanks to all for the links and contributions.

March 29, 2015 7:04 am

Book sales obviously flagging, so here’s the pitch. The stupid stuff starts at around 11:00.

Sorry Bill, you didn’t even mention the unattributed volcano in 1809 so I won’t be buying your London cabby style alarmist drivel. Shit happens, get used to it.
Reality is such a bitch, especially with those big SO2 injections into the strat.

Reply to  AJB
March 29, 2015 7:37 am

So uninformed. Where to start? And people applauded him?

Steve from Rockwood
Reply to  Patrick
March 29, 2015 8:38 am

Only when he stopped talking.

March 29, 2015 7:16 am
Billy Liar
Reply to  Jeff
March 29, 2015 9:06 am

Maybe he’s putting in one final sales push before Doomsday.
Maybe he’s also trying to get it into the top 4 million on Amazon books:
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,041,087 in Books

March 29, 2015 7:34 am

And when does the asteroid arrive?

Reply to  Justthinkin
March 29, 2015 9:50 am

No comet.

Tom in Florida
Reply to  Justthinkin
March 29, 2015 3:33 pm

Apophis arrives in 2036. It is then that we are all doomed.

March 29, 2015 7:38 am

If some horrible climate change suddenly caused food production to drop it would raise the price of food higher than the price of gasoline. Result would be that the corn that is currently being converted into ethanol would be too expensive and would be eaten. And the various grains that are fed to animals would suddenly become expensive and probably too valuable to use that way. The result would be that available food would increase substantially just from the change in the price of food.
Our present wealth is part of the reason we’re more immune to starvation than people were in the Middle Ages. The other part is that our farmers can react to sudden changes a lot better than they could 500 years ago. So I wouldn’t worry too much about this.

Reply to  Carl
March 29, 2015 12:56 pm

Carl March 29, 2015 at 7:38 am
So ethanol availability falls, fuel price rises, Crude price rises, fracking becomes economic, Saudi share of oil exports [never mind usage] tumbles.
So, I guess, Saudi Arabia is seeking bigger and better volcano plugs, and lubrication for them.
Putin is looking for bigger and better tanks.
Cameron [UK PM in case you missed him – balding cove with impressive jowls] seeks better arguments against the Lib Dems, who wouldn’t let a decadely review of constituency sizes, and borders, go ahead – apparently because the People had dissed their sky-is-falling ideas on changing the British Constitution radically [with no roll-back, no risk assessments, no explanation – just it’ll help us . . . . .]
We’ve six weeks or so to the most disruptive General Election since, probably, about the Reform Bill of 1832.
Expect more of the same from Brits.
The parties do not discuss Energy, Defence, the deficit – this year our [‘our’] Government will besides spending every penny of all the taxes, duties, charges, etc. they raise, also spend [having borrowed] well over a thousand pounds for every man woman and child in the UK.
And this borrowed sum will add about six per cent to the outstanding debt – which all has to be paid back.
And on which interest has to be paid.
Next financial year, 2015-2016, the UK will spend more on interest [at current near zero rates, even!] that we spend on all education.
Rant – well, not over, I’m sure; more interrupted, a bit.

March 29, 2015 7:40 am

The big question here after a major volcanic eruption is how are the warmists going to generate power that have installed solar panels on their roof? I guess they won’t be off the grid anymore…

Gary Pearse
March 29, 2015 7:52 am

March 29, 2015 at 1:42 am
“Except that there may be a common denominator between then and now. Tambora erupted during the Dalton GM. The Laki Fires happened just prior to the onset of the Dalton….”
My friend, from the USGS:
There are averages of 13,000 EQ per decade of 4-5 on the Richter Scale; 1300 EQ per decade at 5-6, 130 at 6-7 (big), 15 at 7-7.9 (huge) and ~1 >8 (colossal). Re volcanoes, the brief climate effect follows the volcano. With the magma down scores of km, it wouldn’t know the surface temp had gone up 0.07C per decade. This is the trouble with the whole CAGW storm in a teacup. The numbers are little. If we get a huge volcano in the next year or two, there will be those who write a paper on the long pause causing pent up warming that triggered the disaster. BTW, these are the babies (and earthquakes, fires, storms) that we should already have been reasonably prepared for a hundred years ago, not for a bogeyman in the future. Let’s see, food, water, shelter, clothing, medical and emergency energy supplies.

Reply to  Gary Pearse
March 29, 2015 3:09 pm

All of those New Madrid quakes were mainly colossal, with a few huge intermingled in. The volcanoes that did erupt during that period were large events. I think that the odds are raised for larger Earth events during Gleissberg and GM periods. It could be that this has to do with the depth of any given grand minimum with the exception that some grand minima last for two 30 year periods, the Maunder being one example and that unnamed event around 290 AD also at 60 years duration. The Dalton was 30+ years, and around 900 AD with the MWP in full swing it looks to me like there was a 15 year short cycle grand minimum. If the current warm period is to continue to some future point, then a 15 year grand minimum could be the type coming up.
I have watched the daily quake for 4+ years. The daily averages ebb and flow a bit over time. From where I first started watching quakes there was an increase in the daily average months after the Tohoku Quake, and that is also when I first noticed quakes striking in the middle of the US, a few around Hope Arkansas which was then followed by several quakes in Oklahoma. From that point forward the rate of quakes in Oklahoma has steadily increased, and as of the last year Kansas quakes are on the map mainly around Anthony Kansas. Today there have only been 5 Oklahoma quakes over the last 24 hours, but in days and months past the rate was up as high as 16/24hr. There are some days where there are more daily quakes in Oklahoma then in California. That gets my interest up.

March 29, 2015 8:01 am

Yes. But global warming enthusiasts aren’t interested in putting anything in perspective. They want the unwashed masses to be bereft of modern life, leaving the bounty of natural resources for themselves. Don’t believe it? Just look at how the loudest proponents of global warming live.

Reply to  Richard
March 29, 2015 9:09 am

I immediately think of Al Gore, David Suzuki, and Prince Charles. All living quite well, while telling the poor masses to consume less.

Reply to  Cam_S
March 29, 2015 1:43 pm

It would be remiss to forget Leonardo DiCaprio

March 29, 2015 9:04 am

‘Geological catastrophes being induced by global warming’ seems to be the latest analogy to ‘picking up a turd by the clean end.’

John West
March 29, 2015 9:22 am

“a Tambora style eruption could kill millions of people from starvation, as massive crop failures caused food prices to skyrocket.”

March 29, 2015 9:41 am

If people are worried about millions dying from starvation, then worry about a total global collapse of the derivatives market.
Contrary to the trendy fantasy that barter is hip, depending on a “coincidence of wants” will not feed the world. Money is the prerequisite to specialization, division of labor, and multilateral trade. Money is what enables all of the marvels around you, from grapes in winter to this blog.
Money used to be something of positive value. Now, after the US fraudulently defaulted on its gold obligations in 1933 and again in 1971, the USDollar, along with all currencies around the world, are based on something of negative value: the irredeemable promises of spendthrift governments — unpayable perpetual debt.
That debt, in the form of government bonds, has since 1980 become a plaything in the hands of speculators. They have for 35 years driven up the price of those bonds (in direct contradiction of the Quantity Theory of Money). Few understand that the Great Depression was a bond bull market; the raging bull vacuumed money out of every crack and crevice in the economy, including once-sound businesses. Fewer still understand that we are in the Greatest Depression, one that is already four times longer, and far deeper than its predecessor.
So great are the gains to be had in the 35 year bond bull — gains siphoned off from producers and savers (you can only steal from those who have something to steal!) — that, despite the mountain of debt, there are not nearly enough bonds to go around to serve as chips in the casino. In response a 1.5 quadrillion dollar derivatives Tower of Babel has self-organized to create ever more casino chips (euphemistically described has hedges, or bond and interest rate insurance). Don’t fall for the lie: those derivatives do not stabilize the global monetary system, they destabilize it.
All it takes is one default in gold or silver at the COMEX or other commodity exchange, and in an instant all offers to sell the monetary metals will disappear. There will be plenty of bids, but zero asks. Gold will not be for sale at any price (in currencies). This can happen in flash.
At that moment, the entire 1.5 quadrillion dollar derivatives pyramid cannot fetch a single gram of gold (just as a 100 trillion Zimbabwe note could not fetch a single gram).
The world’s payment system is shattered.
Without a global payment system — without “money” — specialization, division of labor, and multilateral trade collapse.
The world’s economy flattens back to barter, the ultimate in deflation.
Welcome to the stone age.
Anyone who thinks that money (and value) is purely subjective, and that gold is “just a metal” is an abject fool.
* * * * *

Reply to  Max Photon
March 29, 2015 11:41 am

so it’s not the volcano then?

Reply to  Max Photon
March 29, 2015 12:48 pm

I’ve been hearing this same thing since the 1950’s, when Eisenhower was President – ie. that our grandchildren are going to have to pay off this accumulated debt…I think that’s why it rings on deaf ears to the politicians.

Reply to  J. Philip Peterson
March 29, 2015 1:06 pm

Were we to have statespersons [M/F] of vision, such a scenario, which has persisted for two generations, may be segued, and at least rolled over.
I see very few statesfolk today.
We’ve just lost Lee Kwan Yew, a major player.
Ronnie Ray-gun and the Plutonium Blonde are both long out-of-office, and, crucially, deceased.
Cameron, Ms. Clinton, the Clown of Italy, even President Xi (though he may be China-beneficial pragmatic) do not excite. Nor the latest King of Saudi Arabia unhappily.
Maybe – hold on to your hats . . . . .

Reply to  Max Photon
March 29, 2015 2:22 pm

there have been, in effect, four monetary systems
-central banks, money as debt
– non-cornerable commodiities
-scrip systems
pls stop citing gold. if the world goes to that, somone would corrner the market and everything might be even worse. IMO, a false dualism

March 29, 2015 10:03 am

Of course we’re not ready for the next super volcanic eruption. Nor are we ready for the next asteroid strike. Or a super earthquake that destroys dozens of major cities. Or Putin losing what is left of his marbles and starting a nuclear war. Or Obama losing what few marbles he ever had and handing Iran the path to a nuclear bomb, sparking a Sunni/Shia nuclear arms race that ends who knows where.
We are not, and cannot be “prepared” for such eventualities, so we live our daily lives as best we can and deal with unexpected when/if it happens.

k. kilty
Reply to  davidmhoffer
March 29, 2015 10:21 am

Navigate the shoals. That is what I tell my kids and will continue to tell them. Not that they listen.

Joel O’Bryan
March 29, 2015 10:06 am

Here’s what I find astonishing re: Big volcanos (and their aerosols SO2, etc) versus the climate change bedwetters.
In the 20 March 2015 Science mag, Dr Marcia McNutt, Editor-inChief, penned an editorial called “Ignorance is not an option.”
Here is the introductory paragraph and some highlights of her piece:

“Suppose future governments of the world discover that a single nation is taking the unprecedented action of spraying sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere to cool Earth’s surface temperature by a few degrees celsius? The move is intended to increase the fraction of solar energy that is reflected from Earth back into space—a measure known as modifying Earth’s albedo. The nation was prompted by a failed harvest the previous year, the result of greenhouse gas buildup in the atmosphere that boosted average summer temperatures above 32°C. National leaders turn to the science community for answers: What does this action mean for any individual country? ”
“For the moment, this scenario remains hypothetical. However, the impacts of climate change are indeed real. Before long, they may well provoke citizens to demand that their leaders take more drastic actions for the sake of the economy and public health, and to avoid civil unrest and international conflict. ”
As demonstrated by the effects of large volcanic eruptions that inject particles into the stratosphere, albedo modification is the only option on the table that is known to cool Earth’s surface quickly. Given that greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise globally, the risks of not knowing more about the effects, hazards, and intended and unintended consequences of this procedure are starting to outweigh the risks of conducting research to learn more about it. For this reason, a recent U.S. National Research Council (NRC) report,* written by a committee that I chaired, says that more research is needed on albedo modification so that the scientific community can answer questions such as those posed in the scenario above. ”
(she concludes with)
“While very strongly recommending against deployment of this measure at climate-altering scales at this time, the report’s first recommendation is to implement climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies: the lowest-risk options. Although we hope that a scenario like the one above will not present itself, society is no longer at the point where ignorance about albedo modification is acceptable.”

Some “back of the envelope” numbers from Pinatubo or a hypothetical Bardarbunga volcano SO2 release to the stratosphere clearly so how puny man is against these big volcanos, and even then their effects are so short-lived.
It seems to me it’s all about trying get more research money, as no matter how much is invested in studies, we will be woefully ignorant of the aerosol science.

k. kilty
Reply to  Joel O’Bryan
March 29, 2015 10:23 am

She is not a McNutt for no reason.

March 29, 2015 10:14 am

I am completely ready for the Sweet Meteor of Death (SMoD), the Sweet Volcano of Death (SVoD), or the Sweet Not-Quite-Dead-But-Not-Really-Sleeping Giant Mollusk of Death (SNQDBNRSGMoD) (Ia Cthulhu!) . Bring it on, baby. Bring it on.

Reply to  Jeff
March 29, 2015 5:36 pm

How about the Muddling Through As Per Usual Until Dying At A Ripe Old Age From God Knows What Death (MTAPUUDAAROAFGKWD)?
Ready for that?

March 29, 2015 10:36 am

No Changing Climate does not trigger earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanoes.
If anything it is the other way around.
William Astley
March 29, 2015 at 2:00 am
Large volcanic eruptions correlate with deep solar magnetic cycle minimums. There is an increase in volcanic eruptions when the solar magnetic cycle slows down. The very large volcanic eruptions occur when the solar magnetic tries to restart. We have already experience the increase in volcanic activityand earthquake activity that is associated with the slowdown of the solar cycle (2010 for example there was a threefold increase in volcanic activity in Indonesia.)
MY REPLY- I agree with all of the above commentary . Many data sources show a good correlation between major volcanic activity and prolonged solar minimum periods.

Reply to  Salvatore Del Prete
March 29, 2015 11:07 am

(2010 for example there was a threefold increase in volcanic activity in Indonesia.)
So, the solar magnetic cycle knows how to pick out Indonesia and leave the rest of the planet out of it? Talk about cherry picking! Its a big planet, there’s some area on earth featuring higher than normal volcanic activity every single year!

Reply to  Salvatore Del Prete
March 29, 2015 12:11 pm

l think more of a worry is if prolonged solar minimum periods are linked to a increased risk of “arctic blasts” pushing down across North America.

Jay Hope
Reply to  Salvatore Del Prete
March 29, 2015 2:11 pm

Quite right!

Retired Engineer Jim
Reply to  Salvatore Del Prete
March 29, 2015 4:36 pm

But when is correlation causation? Is there some third factor that is coincident with both “prolonged solar minimum periods” and “major volcanic activity”?

Reply to  Retired Engineer Jim
March 29, 2015 5:30 pm

Yes! That would be the “Cannot do a damn thing about it” factor.

March 29, 2015 10:43 am
The data showing correlations between major volcanic activity and prolonged minimum solar periods of activity.

March 29, 2015 11:28 am
Another good study on solar/volcanic correlations

john robertson
March 29, 2015 12:06 pm

In reply to the caterwauling from the doom mongering twits at the Guardian” ‘Who is we?”
I am ready, me and mine will survive just fine as we have tools,skills and that strange ability to change our choices when the evidence forces us back to reality.
Regular readers of the Guardian? Writers of such pap? Probably not.
But most of these would be hard pressed to survive 3 days without electricity.
Kind of like the gullible buyers of CAGW, such are begging to be sold ever more cataclysmic stories and ever more absurd, expensive cures for their imaginary ailment.
For years I have been baffled by the wilful idiocy of “educated persons”, I have chosen not to take advantage of such defenceless consumers .
But, these persons have enabled a 30 year assault upon everything I value.
Such that I now suspect civilization may fall.
Without their extreme gullibility none of the Gang Green Extortion would have been possible.
Therefore not allowing the gullible to suffer the consequences of their own choices has been a stupid decision on my part.
I apologize.
In my chosen trade I can rightly claim the ability to fix nearly anything given enough time, but I cannot fix stupid.
Peace of mind has come from learning not to try.
But I do resent stupid persons trying to control my life.
I have been assured that a “Good Education” is expensive.
The University of Hard Knocks concurs.
Therefore it seems ones civic duty is to “educate” the gullible.
The survival of civilization as we know it may depend upon such action.
Join the cause..bankrupt the gullible…build a nest egg…save civilization.
Damned if I know anymore.

Mac the Knife
Reply to  john robertson
March 29, 2015 3:31 pm

You echo the sentiments and frustrations of many of us. The skill sets represented by the folks who visit WUWT are capable of ‘fixing’ damn near any structure, machine, and service on the planet. But we don’t know how to ‘fix stupid’ and we lack the calculated avarice to manipulate their stupidity to our advantage. Our opposition has no such impairment.
But I do resent stupid persons trying to control my life.
A statement of pure resonance, for all but the trolls that visit here.
You are in good company, friend!

March 29, 2015 1:08 pm

The same climate models that exaggerate the sensitivity of global temperature to the positive radiative forcing of carbon dioxide by a factor of three also exaggerate the sensitivity of global temperature to the negative radiative forcing of volcanic aerosols by a factor of three. While I would not want to minimize the human cost of a repeat of Tambora’s devastating eruption, it should be said that the climate consequences are likely overestimated by a wide margin.

Barbara Skolaut
March 29, 2015 1:50 pm

“Are we ready for the next volcanic catastrophe?”
When it comes, it will come – whether we’re ready or not.

March 29, 2015 3:37 pm

joelobryan quotes Dr Marcia McNutt who organised and moderated the AAAS Annual Meeting 2015, Climate Intervention and Geoengineering: Albedo Modification Panel discussion.
ABC Australia’s Science Show is still giving it airplay. my impression has long been that all the talk about geoengineerng is meant to scare the public into accepting the CAGW policy agenda whole, no questions asked:
AUDIO: 28 March: ABC Science Show: Geoengineering – a stimulus for change, an excuse to continue, or even possible?
If geoengineering ever comes to pass, what will be the message? That change is urgent? …
A panel of speakers at this year’s American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in San Jose tossed around a few of the challenges…
Guests include Alan Robock, Rutgers University, New Jersey USA
(8 mins in: Alan Robock, led by ABC Host Robyn Williams to repeat what he said at the AAAS meeting about his interractions with the public on geoengineering:
Robock: if i tell people i’m working on geoengineering, they say what’s that. most people don’t even know what it is. when i explain it, they say wow, you are thinking about doing something that crazy?…maybe global warming really is a problem, maybe i should consider global warming more seriously. and there’s been academic research showing that is the reaction of people. if they see you are actually planning or thinking about these geoengineering responses, there must be a real problem.
ABC Host Robyn Williams: Yes indeed.)
for once, because CAGW is concerned, UK Independent is concerned that the CIA is concerned!!!
15 Feb: UK Independent: Steve Connor: CIA: Foreign powers may develop ability to manipulate the global climate undetected
Officials are worried foreign countries may develop geoengineering – the deliberate manipulation of the global climate
Consultants working for the Central Intelligence Agency have asked Professor Alan Robock of Rutgers University in New Jersey whether it would be possible for another nation to meddle with the climate without being discovered, he said.
“I got a phone call from two men who said we work as consultants for the CIA and we’d like to know if some other country was controlling our climate would we know about it,” Professor Robock said…
Professor Robock is an expert in geoengineering – the deliberate manipulation of the global climate – and specialises in how large volcanic eruptions cause global cooling by reflecting sunlight back into space, increasing the Earth’s reflectivity, or albedo.
Geoengineering has been the focus of two major studies, one by the Royal Society in Britain and one by the US National Academy of Sciences, ***which was part-funded by the American intelligence agencies. Both reports concluded that albedo modification poses considerable risks but that geoengineering warrants more research…
“I work on the area of stratospheric aerosols to emulate a volcanic eruption and I’ve identified five potential benefits of that and 26 potential risks,” Professor Robock told the American Association for the Advancement of Science in San Jose. “We know the answer to global warming is adaptation and mitigation. We’d rather not have to work on this.”…
one comment, from what seems to be a typical Independent reader, MICAH C: “I’m much more concerned about the CIA manipulating weather than I am any ‘foreign powers.’ As far as I can tell, the CIA is the only group that currently has that capability, and I also happen to believe they’re guilty of putting it to use.”

Reply to  pat
March 29, 2015 5:47 pm

Watch for the ability for regional weather manipulation.

nutso fasst
March 29, 2015 3:54 pm

I think it’s safe to say there are few people ready to be baked, broiled, asphyxiated, or drowned.

March 29, 2015 4:25 pm

I’m sick of the hype about Tambora and “the year without a summer”. Tambora was the largest volcano in recorded history and had a major impact of GLOBAL climate. Despite Willis and “spot the volcano”, MGST must have been at least 1 degC lower than usual for a year or two. However, there is nothing unusual about a month in which any ONE area is 2-3 degC different from average, so most people didn’t notice the cooling from Tambora.
The “year without a summer” was a remarkable regional cold spell – unforced variability – that happened to strike New England 15 months after Tambora, reducing mean monthly temperatures by at least 3 degC LOCALLY, in addition to the volcanic global cooling. Based on Pinatubo, we might expect that maximum cooling from the eruption occurred in during the winter of 1815-1816, not the following summer. There is nothing unprecedented about snow in late spring in northern New England. 34 inches of snow fell on Whiteface Mountain, NY on Memorial Day weekend in 2013 – without the assistance of a volcano, the Dalton minimum, or the LIA and despite the opposition of 0.8 degC of global warming in the twentieth century. Tambora therefore played only a modest role in New Englands usual weather in 1816.
The year without a summer also effected Europe also, but heavy rain, not remarkable cold, was the major problem. Since heavy rains are not normally associated with volcanic eruptions, the wet summer in Europe of 1816 probably was unforced variability.

Reply to  Frank
March 29, 2015 11:22 pm

Whatever caused the year without a summer, it made an impression on New England. While snow in May is fairly rare (except for Mt Washington, which has seen snow in every month), snow doesn’t happen in June/July/August. My father thought he saw some frost one cold early July morning in a depression next to an interstate, that’s possible with some really impressively dry air and radiational cooling – which we had that day. No farm crops were lost.
In 1816, the corn crop was killed three times by frost, once in each of June, July, and August. That has never happened before or since. From the description of the weather, which included plenty of warm weather, I conclude that the storm track shifted southward in 1816, and that can readily explain the effects being limited to a small range of latitudes. See (Willis dismissed it in comments to his post on global effects.)
You note:

There is nothing unprecedented about snow in late spring in northern New England. 34 inches of snow fell on Whiteface Mountain, NY on Memorial Day weekend in 2013 – without the assistance of a volcano, the Dalton minimum, or the LIA and despite the opposition of 0.8 degC of global warming in the twentieth century. Tambora therefore played only a modest role in New Englands usual weather in 1816.

The planting guidelines in NH say that the danger of frost extends through May. Here in the low lands near Concord NH, the weather around then was:

mysql> select dt, lo_temp, hi_temp, rain from daily where dt >= '2013-5-23' and dt <= '2013-5-31';
| dt         | lo_temp | hi_temp | rain |
| 2013-05-23 |    52.0 |    71.3 | 0.29 |
| 2013-05-24 |    46.8 |    70.8 | 0.42 |
| 2013-05-25 |    34.7 |    47.4 | 0.82 |
| 2013-05-26 |    36.0 |    54.4 | 0.13 |
| 2013-05-27 |    35.8 |    69.4 | 0.00 |
| 2013-05-28 |    37.9 |    74.2 | 0.00 |
| 2013-05-29 |    51.0 |    59.8 | 0.22 |
| 2013-05-30 |    55.4 |    87.4 | 0.00 |
| 2013-05-31 |    59.3 |    92.9 | 0.00 |

I fully agree we can get snow and freezing weather in May. I think it was May 5th, 1977 that brought a devastating snow to parts of Massachusetts where deciduous leaves had emerged and caught more snow than the limbs could support.
The summer months were the important ones in 1816. If Dad did see frost that July morning, then all it takes is a modest, or a bit more than modest, effect to produce a very unusual farming season.

March 29, 2015 5:25 pm

I think it would be safe to say that civilization in general will never “be ready” for a global catastrophe.

March 29, 2015 5:44 pm

There were 19 great (cat 8 and above) earthquakes between 1950 and 2002 and 19 great earthquakes between 2003 and today. As these earthquakes are generally on or very close to tectonic plate boundaries, this suggests that the tectonic plates are moving slightly more at present than they were during the second half of the 20th Century. The increased incidence of great earthquakes suggests that it is quite likely that there will be an increased incidence of explosive volcanic activity over the next few decades.

Reply to  Brent Walker
March 29, 2015 8:00 pm

Brent Walker March 29, 2015 at 5:44 pm says:

There were 19 great (cat 8 and above) earthquakes between 1950 and 2002 and 19 great earthquakes between 2003 and today.


Reply to  Brent Walker
March 29, 2015 10:16 pm

I counted 15 M8+ earthquakes from 2003 to the present, data from here, the last one was 4/1/14.
“Great” earthquakes, M8+, occur on average every 1.5 years according to this source:
But the USGS says about once every 1 year,
I counted 15 up through 2012 from the USGS table, then, adding the 3 more since 2012, gets us 18. Got one missing…
Thanks for mentioning that Brent. Where are you hiding that last earthquake?
The other sources I looked at had different numbers too, so it’s a good idea to double and triple cross check such data sources.

March 29, 2015 6:45 pm

Nice to see the Grauniad maintaining its usual lack of credibility.

Dr. Strangelove
March 29, 2015 7:19 pm

Are we ready for the next volcanic catastrophe? No. We can’t stop it. We can get out of the way. But large eruptions can have regional devastation and global climate effect. There is nowhere to hide. Blast the volcano with atomic bombs before it erupts so the eruption will not be explosive. High pressure gases will not build up underneath once the cap rocks are destroyed. Magma flow and SO2 emission will still be a problem. Hopefully the little ice age will not last long.

Alan Robertson
Reply to  Dr. Strangelove
March 29, 2015 7:32 pm

don’t think so…

March 29, 2015 8:32 pm

Krakatoa = Baby Bro
Tambora = Big Bro
Toba = Big Daddy
Nobody wake big daddy! Let sleeping giants lie.

March 29, 2015 10:18 pm

As Eric Worrall says, this is an unusually interesting article in the Guardian. Here is a comment I posted under it. To my surprise, it wasn’t deleted:
‘On the same page as this genuine article, based on scientific principles, about a known threat, is a link to another page entitled “The argument for divesting from fossil fuels is becoming overwhelming”. From the sublime to the ridiculous.’

March 30, 2015 6:06 am

The Toba eruption probably killed off our human cousins in south east Asia and most of East Asia leaving the place open for re-occupation by modern humans.
And if we are looking for a volcanic catastrophe Yellowstone is a leading candidate.
It last went off 640,000 years ago
It will erupt again causing major destruction in North America [wind direction at the time will have a bearing on events] and significantly affect weather.
But when will it erupt….in 10 years, 100 years, 1000 years, 1 million years ?
We know what causes eruptions in very general terms but can’t predict them except at the very last gasp.
As J. Buffet enquires……. “Where you going to go when the volcano blows?”

March 30, 2015 6:32 am

“…….,Analysis of climate records reveals that 1816, the so-called “year without a summer”, was the second coldest in the northern hemisphere of the past six centuries……..”
So, what CAUSED the coldest?? ( which occured BEFORE the volcanic eruption !!!!)
A volcanic eruption of this magnitude probably produced 100 years worth of present-day-HUMAN-generated production rates of CO2 . In that CO2 hangs around in the atmosphere for many , many years, how is it that subsequent to the volcanic particulate matter settling out of the atmosphere – after about 1 to 3 years- the climate did NOT WARM ??? After all, with all that ” excess” CO2 hanging around, it MUST have caused massive global warming.
What happened to the global warming??

March 30, 2015 7:23 am

I predict once the solar minimum becomes more established geological activity will be on the rise as it was during the 2008-2011 solar lull. That period of time much more active then the past few years, especially this past year.

March 30, 2015 7:56 am

I said this BEFORE it has taken place on Dr. Spencer’s web-site.
Salvatore Del Prete says:
March 18, 2015 at 1:37 PM
I saw the 6.2 quake. Total up to two earthquakes 6.0 or greater since the geomagnetic event. Never came across the 6.6 quake.
It will be interesting to compare the total number of magnitude 5.0 earthquakes or better a few weeks leading up to the geomagnetic storm versus a few weeks since the storm and see if an increase has taken place.
For my money I think the number of earthquakes magnitude 5.0 or better will be greater from Mar.17 -Mar.31 then they were from Mar.03-Mar.17.
Also volcanic activity has to be watched.
My reasoning is the tectonic plates are unstable to begin with so any added force no matter how slight might be just enough to give them that little added instability which pushes them over the edge.

March 30, 2015 8:19 am

Ideally I think the sun needs to be in the depths of a prolonged solar minimum (AP index 5.0 or less) with then a geomagnetic storm of K8 magnitude or better(AP index spike over 250) taking place in order to realize the full potential effects.
The AP index has been well above the 5.0 average when this recent event (k8 geomagnetic storm) took place..
Here is the data Mar. 03- Mar. 17, prior to the K8 event versus Mar. 17 – Mar . 31, (note one more day left in this period of time to make the difference even more telling) after the K8 event took place..
Mar. 17- Mar 17 – 46 earthquakes took place with a magnitude of 5.0 or higher.
Mar. 17 – Mar 31 – Note it is only Mar 30 , as of now 62 earthquakes have taken place thus far with a magnitude of 5.0 or higher. This is over a 30% increase over the period prior to the geomagnetic storm.
Mar.03 – Mar 17 – 3 earthquakes took place with a magnitude of 6.0 or higher. No earthquakes with a magnitude of 7.0 or higher.
Mar.03- Mar. 31 – Note it is only Mar.30 — 8 earthquakes have taken place with a magnitude of 6.0 or higher. This is over a 100% increase over the period prior to the geomagnetic storm, with one earthquake having a magnitude of 7.0 or higher.
I would have to say this data lends support to what I have been suggesting ,especially when consideration is taken into account that the ideal conditions I have called for, that being a very low AP index 5.0 or lower for many months with a sudden spike of 250 or greater were not fully realized.
What matters is I said this BEFORE it happened not after the fact.

March 30, 2015 8:23 am

This gives me that much more confidence that when prolonged solar minimum conditions become fully established later this decade and a geomagnetic event of this magnitude takes place, that even greater geological activity might be the result.

March 30, 2015 8:27 am

Ideally I think the sun needs to be in the depths of a prolonged solar minimum (AP index 5.0 or less) with then a geomagnetic storm of K8 magnitude or better(AP index spike over 250) taking place in order to realize the full potential effects.
The AP index has been well above the 5.0 average when this recent event (k8 geomagnetic storm) took place..
Here is the data Mar. 03- Mar. 17, prior to the K8 event versus Mar. 17 – Mar . 31, (note one more day left in this period of time to make the difference even more telling) after the K8 event took place..
Mar. 03- Mar 17 – 46 earthquakes took place with a magnitude of 5.0 or higher.
Mar. 17 – Mar 31 – Note it is only Mar 30 , as of now 62 earthquakes have taken place thus far with a magnitude of 5.0 or higher. This is over a 30% increase over the period prior to the geomagnetic storm.
Mar.03 – Mar 17 – 3 earthquakes took place with a magnitude of 6.0 or higher. No earthquakes with a magnitude of 7.0 or higher.
Mar.17- Mar. 31 – Note it is only Mar.30 — 8 earthquakes have taken place with a magnitude of 6.0 or higher. This is over a 100% increase over the period prior to the geomagnetic storm, with one earthquake having a magnitude of 7.0 or higher.
I would have to say this data lends support to what I have been suggesting ,especially when consideration is taken into account that the ideal conditions I have called for, that being a very low AP index 5.0 or lower for many months with a sudden spike of 250 or greater were not fully realized.

Ulric Lyons
Reply to  Salvatore Del Prete
March 30, 2015 9:35 am

The first short term solar correlation that I made was in 2010, with larger EQ’s occurring when there were was an Earth facing coronal hole. Without that observation there would be no suspicious0bservers youtube channel, but I dumped the idea because the proposed mechanism was very unlikely, and the stats on a larger sample of events wasn’t that good. But on further inspection I found a more consistent correlation, of larger EQ’s occurring after several days of declining (and less spiky) solar wind speed, and/or in the first day or two following several days of declining speeds. And curiously any larger EQ’s occurring while the SW wind remains higher seem to be be predominately in ocean floor locations:

Ulric Lyons
March 30, 2015 8:39 am

In 2008 I spotted a pattern of much colder north hemisphere winter episodes preceding larger volcanic eruptions. For some years I have had a forecast out for a very long cold start to 2017, and I suspect that there may be strong eruptive activity following in late summer and autumn 2017. The analogue year that I use for the seasonal forecast, 1838, had larger eruptions in at least Guatemala, Cameroon, Indonesia, and Iceland. See how that works out.

Reply to  Ulric Lyons
March 30, 2015 6:29 pm

The mechanism that might lead to colder northern hemisphere winters causing an increase in world wide volcanic activity is puzzling.
However it’s a prediction that can be tested.
What were the “larger ” eruptions in Indonesia in 1838-39?

Bohdan Burban
March 30, 2015 11:09 am

This is yet another sad example of publishers pimping out academics, with their bottom line foremost in mind.

March 30, 2015 2:29 pm

So, are there more volcanic eruptions during winter than summer?

March 30, 2015 4:32 pm
This shows prior to the largest earthquake on record 9.5 magnitude in Chile, May 22, 1960 there were 3 spikes of AP index activity.
Spike one= 240 end of Mar
Spike two= 170 end of Apr.
Spike three= 130 May 09 or so.
See how this situation is along the same lines as today.

March 31, 2015 7:07 am

Before big volcanic eruptions, several smaller precede (not well recorded), rising clouding-cooling.

March 31, 2015 8:33 am

Part one
Here is my thinking. I think at times of prolonged solar minimums Muons a by product of galactic cosmic rays enter the earth’s crust and penetrate it adding a little extra instability to the already unstable plates. This sets the stage for when an intense active burst of activity from the sun causes a geomagnetic storm here on earth to create havoc with the earth’s magnetic field which compounds the instability on the plates, the increase in Muons created when solar activity was quiet giving a double whammy of instability to the plates which makes them more likely to be pushed over the edge ,the result more geological activity.
The source for the geomagnetic storm from the sun does not matter, it could be coronal holes, a solar flair or a filament explosion.
Part 2
I can see a tie in with more geological activity near solar maximum due to extreme solar events taking place around that time. Not as great however as around very quiet prolonged solar minimum conditions, with a severe solar event taking place within the prolonged solar minimum period.
I think five factors come into play to determine if an increase in geological activity is going to follow a major solar event. I think the five factors are the relative strength of the earth’s magnetic field, the overall level of solar activity in general, the geomagnetic storm strength itself , the state of instability of the plates at that point in time ,and most IMPORTANT the strength in the geomagnetic storm in relation to the level of solar activity in general.
I think the greater the spread is between the average AP index and the AP index during the geomagnetic storm the greater the chances will be for major geological activity to follow.
This is not a black and white situation unfortunately. It does not work like clockwork. This is my best take ,I do not know for certain if this is correct but it seems to be logical in many respects.
I will leave with this, it is never black and white when it comes to climate issues. There always seems to be a counter argument or take to what ever my be presented.

April 2, 2015 7:56 am

Reblogged this on Combyne's Weblog and commented:
There she blows or perhaps not.
Worth thinking about though.

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