Friday 24th of May 2024

1258 AD — the european summer that went AWOL...


picture of Mount Rinjani, from google maps - 1258 AD — the summer that went AWOL...

Science and the study of the record gives us a great insight into the past... in 1258, some historical chronicles of Europe tell us that the summer was crap. Worse than crap... The year went pass as if winter never left. Crops were delayed and then rotted as they never dried, due to non-stop rain and fog. Trees barely fruited...

By a strange coincidence, scientists studying the ice cores of Greenland and of Antarctica started to hone in on what was that year 's "problem"...
A large amount of atmospheric particles seems to have happened during that year — 1258... and the scientists had to find the source of such amount of dust. Of course someone added two and two after having read the crap summer chronicles... 
It would seem to be simple enough to trace the origin of these particles but it took a scientific team quite a few years to find the culprit. 
The report is here to be found and it makes interesting reading.
Basically a LARGE volcano erupted in Lombok — Rinjani. MASSIVE... The site of the volcano is known but its association with the dreadful summer was not. Nor was the volcano full history... 
The volcano eruption was more than twenty times that of mount Vesuvius that engulfed Pompei in 79 AD. Hence the global effect. The eruption was bigger than that of Krakatoa by a long shot... It buried the capital of Lombok at the time, that disappeared under millions of tonnes of ash... This capital. Pamatan, has never been seen again but is mentioned in the local historical writings of the times, apparently recorded on banana leaves.
This event strongly show the influence of "particles" in the atmosphere...
This is why some scientists/engineers are thinking that we could try to arrest global warming by seeding particles in the atmosphere...
There are many problem associated with this...
Hard to know the dosage as not to create a sudden plunge in summer heat that could be catastrophic on crops and people.
Particles depending on their nature and size have detrimental effects on the health of people... The smaller they are the more trouble they can cause — and far more study needs to be made on PM10, PM2.5 and especially PM1 (the smallest). The bigger they are the faster they can fall back on earth but before falling back, as we know, particles from volcanic ash can be lethal to air traffic
And even this would not arrest global warming...  Particles would only slow it down and delay its full impact for only a couple of years... And one would need a serious SUPER LARGE amount of particle worldwide in a way that would be completely impossible to deliver, with dire consequences on the health of people... We would all have to be wearing dust masks or gas masks...
As we know too, Lombok is an island on the "other side" of the Australian plate, like the rest of Indonesia, on the other side of the deep Timor trough. As the Australian plate moves northward, it pushes against many islands from Vanuatu, Fiji up to Malaysia.
Even today, there has been a 5.4 tremor in Tonga and a 4.9 in New Ireland, PNG... All related to this northerly push.
Whether there is another Lombok or Krakatoa soon is hard to predict though scientists these days can be more alert to signs of plate tectonics pressures. 
It would possibly take forty Lombok Rinjani volcanoes to temporarily arrest global warming as it presently is, in its track... And then what? Within a few years, the CO2 would still be there and the particles would have gone... Plane traffic would have come to a stand still ... and that could have been a blessing in the reduction of CO2...
We need to smartly reduce our CO2 emissions. Point blank.... We can do it...

Gus Leonisky






Institute for Space Studies, Goddard Space Flight Center, NASA, 2880 Broadway, New York,

NY 10025, U.S.A.

Abstract. Somewhere in the tropics, a volcano exploded violently during the year 1258, producing

a massive stratospheric aerosol veil that eventually blanketed the globe. Arctic and Antarctic ice

cores suggest that this was the world’s largest volcanic eruption of the past millennium. According

to contemporary chronicles, the stratospheric dry fog possibly manifested itself in Europe as a

persistently cloudy aspect of the sky and also through an apparently total darkening of the eclipsed

Moon. Based on a sudden temperature drop for several months in England, the eruption’s initiation

date can be inferred to have been probably January 1258. The frequent cold and rain that year led

to severe crop damage and famine throughout much of Europe. Pestilence repeatedly broke out in

1258 and 1259; it occurred also in the Middle East, reportedly there as plague. Another very cold

winter followed in 1260–1261. The troubled period’s wars, famines, pestilences, and earthquakes

appear to have contributed in part to the rise of the European flagellant movement of 1260, one of

the most bizarre social phenomena of the Middle Ages. Analogies can be drawn with the climatic

aftereffects and European social unrest following another great tropical eruption, Tambora in 1815.

Some generalizations about the climatic impacts of tropical eruptions are made from these and other





Note that the 2010 eruptions of Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland — and its ash clouds that disrupted air traffic considerably — did not make a big dent in global warming... Despite this eruption, despite the sun being in a quiet "cool" phase (no sun spots) and despite the climatic regime of the planet being in a La Nina cooling event, the planet's surface still warmed up...    


earthquakes today...

earthquakes 4 oct 2013, 10 am

See the position of Lombok, Krakatoa and other various places north and east of Australia where earthquakes are frequent. The recent earthquakes (today's names in white) are marked in red, the ones for the past few days are in orange and the ones for the past fifteen days are in yellow... The recent Kermadec Island earthquake was a 5.0. The earthquake in the Banda Sea was a 4.6...

the crazy human god...

Two years ago this month, in a disused Norfolk airfield, a small group of scientists were preparing to undertake one of the more controversial experiments in British scientific history. What little equipment it needed – a B&Q pressure washer, 1km of hydraulic hose and an 8m air balloon – had been bought or loaned. A truck was ready. Once in the air, the dirigible balloon would spray 120 litres of fine water droplets into the East Anglia sky, a miniaturised test for a much larger system that would eventually pump out chemical particles to reflect sunlight and, so the scientists calculated, cool the planet. It was to be a momentous day.

read more:


Read article at top.... AND WORRY SICK ABOUT THESE CRAZY CLEVER  IDIOTS.... They remind me of a scale in a chemical lab I worked in once. It could weight things to the millionth of a gram... but at least one kilogram had to be placed on the scale before being sensitive.... Work this one out... The machine eventually collapsed under its own inbuilt stupidity (TENSION)...

smoke gets in your eyes...

Some people could argue that the Bureau of Meteorology got it wrong in the past few days... The temperatures in Sydney have been consistently two or three degrees Celsius lower than it predicted... Simple: smoke. As demonstrated from article at top, particles in the atmosphere — including particles from smoke — lower the atmosphere temperature... MIND YOU, THE TEMPERATURES WERE STILL EIGHT DEGREES CELSIUS ABOVE AVERAGE. 

Smoke (and air particles) has bad side effects:


Professor Smith warned that even those who are otherwise healthy can be adversely affected by high pollution levels."When you can see or smell the smoke you shouldn't jog or exercise outside.''
"Smoke can kill. We know that during high air pollution days there is an increase in people attending hospitals, getting sick with breathing difficulties but also people dying with cardiovascular disease."
He warned that smoke and pollens can be easily transported by winds which can exacerbate hayfever and allergies.

Signs and symptoms of smoke irritation
  • itchy/burning eyes
  • runny nose
  • shortness of breath
  • headaches
  • irritated sinuses
  • throat irritation
  • cough
Advice from NSW Health for those at risk
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Don't open doors and windows
  • Stay in an air conditioned building if possible
  • Stay cool
  • Don't exercise outside
  • Asthma sufferers should follow their asthma action plan

Read more:

Residents in the Sydney region are being hit with air quality levels up to 50 times worse than normal as pollution from the state's bushfires casts a pall of smoke over the city and beyond.

Read more:

Meanwhile in other parts of the world:

Visibility shrank to less than half a football field and small-particle pollution soared to a record 40 times higher than an international safety standard in one northern Chinese city as the region entered its high-smog season.

The manager for US jazz singer Patti Austen, meanwhile, said the singer had cancelled a concert in Beijing because of an asthma attack likely linked to pollution.

Read more:

The man in the street mentioned that the local supermarkets were full of old people yesterday... They were looking for clean air conditioned space in front of a nice cuppa...


Read article at top...

acid seas and acid skies...

SPIEGEL: Why imperfect?

Keith: Because it cannot deal with all problems with CO2 in the atmosphere. For example, it does nothing about ocean acidification.

SPIEGEL: And what do you mean by "cheap?"

Keith: According to my estimate the injection of a dose [of particles] with an appreciable effect on climate would cost about a $1 billion per year -- which is essentially zero if you compare it to the costs of climate damage, which are expected to be at least a $1 trillion a year by mid-century.

SPIEGEL: A billion dollars! This is, in fact, frighteningly cheap. It means that any billionaire could start to change the climate according to his will?

Keith: True. We have a case here, where low cost is not necessarily good. But I don't consider it to be very credible that an individual would be doing this. A government would be able to prevent him.

SPIEGEL: And what if some small island state that feels threatened by rising sea levels decides to cool down the earth a little bit?

Keith: Even in that case the international community has lots of mechanisms to stop this. My real concern is the big countries, like Indonesia, India or the United States.

SPIEGEL: Whoever injects sulfur into the stratosphere will put heavy risks on health and environment. This doesn't frighten you?

Keith: No doubt there are considerable risks. Eventually the sulfur will settle down into the lower atmosphere. And then there's the ozone loss risk.

read more:




The ONLY SOLUTION to mitigate global warming is to reduce CO2 emissions... FULL STOP.


Particles can reduce the heat but the increasing rise of CO2 will demand far more particles than the planet could cope with for far longer than ever nightmared about... Eventually in order to reduce the overheating of the planet we would blanket the land and the air with highly unhealthy particles that could and would kill much of the flora and fauna — even those we rely directly to survive... Crops and cattle would be affected. And due to more CO2 beyond whatever was in the atmosphere for at least the last 120 million years, the temperature would be still climbing and we'd have more problems to deal with the smog and dirt — possibly leading to massive amounts of acid rain.

Meanwhile the seas would have become dangerous like battery acid to life... Well not quite, but the CO2 absorbed by the sea would make it far less liveable for the species in it... Oceans might become "dead"...

Is this the world we want to live in, constantly under smog and fogs, with storms that could be still far more devastating than those today?...


See Dr Who: A Christmas Carol, where the ruler controls the clouds...


See story at top...

reflecting with particles...

Attempts to reverse the impacts of global warming by injecting reflective particles into the stratosphere could make matters worse, say researchers.

A new study suggests the idea, seen as a last-ditch way to deal with runaway climate change, could cut rainfall in the tropics by 30%.

This would have devastating impacts on rainforests in South America and Asia

The research has been published in the journal Environmental Research Letters.

The concept of curbing rising temperatures by blocking sunlight has been discussed by scientists for many years now.

Some of the ideas have been dismissed as crazy notions, but others have been taken more seriously.

One of the most credible plans involves using reflective particles called aerosols to reflect solar radiation away from the Earth.

This happens naturally when volcanoes erupt, sending plumes of ash into the stratosphere, as with Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines in 1991.

Now a team at the University of Reading have modelled the impacts of a large-scale injection of sulphur dioxide particles at high altitudes around the equator. 


Read article at top and all other articles below it...

good reasons to be worried...

Manipulating the climate to cool the planet

A new study reveals that the public is very worried about climate manipulation. Climate engineers are testing solar mirrors, cloud whiteners and even sprays that reduce the amount of light that reaches the Earth.


read articles from top...

the smoke gets in your weepy eyes...

The air pollution from wood fire heaters now poses a bigger immediate health danger to Sydneysiders than cars or cigarettes.

Health experts say the growth in wood fire heaters and the resulting smoke accounts for more than 60 per cent of Sydney's winter air pollution, triggering complications among asthmatics, emphysema and chronic bronchitis sufferers.

In July, an estimated 83,000 heaters are responsible for up to 75 per cent of fine particle pollution in Sydney's basin, according to the NSW EPA. Known as the new asbestos, fine particulate matter is a key component of smog, which can penetrate deep into the lungs.

Read more:

running rings around the greenies...


Understanding risk is essential because the globe doesn't warm in a steady, linear fashion. Brett Parris from Monash University argued the climate record shows a sudden shift between equilibriums. But economists and policy makers are hoping they can manipulate the climate to a point that suits them — two degrees, or even three or four degrees — without knowing where the real threshold lies. "What if there's no equilibrium between one degree and six degrees of warming?" asked Parris.

 Is two degrees too high? Do we need to restructure the economy? Is climate engineering inevitable? 

A second question hovers over how to achieve the two-degree target. Unless emissions peak before 2020, we're looking at emissions reductions rates of up to nine per cent per year, which has historically been associated only with severe recession. Several forum speakers argued this calls for economic restructuring on the scale and speed of mobilisation for WWII. This would involve market interference, a more central "command and control" style of government and possibly electricity rationing.

That brings us the most radical proposal of all. David Keith, a professor of public policy and applied physics at Harvard, presented a case for climate engineering, a hubristic scheme to cool the planet by spraying sunlight-reflecting sulphur particles into the upper atmosphere. The technology would be used to slow the rate of change, not mask the effect of all emissions, but it still carries big risks. It's an indication of the seriousness of climate change that the environmentalists in the audience didn't openly revolt at the suggestion of directly interfering with the planetary thermostat.

As the Abbott Government continues attacking environmental programs and the Australian public baulks at even a modest carbon price, green groups might be reluctant to broach more radical solutions. But if they don't agitate for what's truly necessary, as opposed to what's politically convenient, then who will?

It's time we had a frank — and frightening — discussion about the catastrophe we're heading for and the full suite of options available to turn the situation around. Is two degrees too high? Do we need to restructure the economy? Is climate engineering inevitable? These are the climate debates we have to have, and soon.

Greg Foyster is a Melbourne journalist and the author of Changing Gears: A Pedal-Powered Detour from the Rat Race.


The role of Palmer running rings around Al Gore was to circumvent any Greenie outbursts in the media... So far he has succeeded beyond his dreams... and of all things, this was given to him on a platter by one of the greenie organisation... See article at top and all articles below that.


See also: trickster, con-artist, liar, switcharoola-man theatrics...


another Icelandic volcano about to go up...

Days ago, the rumbles started. They ripped through central Iceland on Saturday, home to the Bardarbunga, the largest volcanic system in the country. There were hundreds of the quakes, if not thousands. But the biggest came early Monday morning — the largest in the region since 1996.

On Tuesday, something ominous was definitely brewing in Bardarbunga. “The intense seismic activity that started on August 16 at Bardarbunga persists,” the Icelandic Meteorological Office said in a statement, adding there were “very strong indications of ongoing magma movement”.

Authorities closed roads near the volcano, and the Icelandic Meteorological Office raised the risk posed to the aviation industry to orange - the second highest level. In 2010, Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull volcano blew. Ash disrupted European air travel, ruining the travel plans of 10 million people and costing $US1.7 billion, Reuters reported.

<i>Tobey/Washington Post</i>

Tobey/Washington Post

And now it’s not a question of whether this one will blow, scientists told the Associated Press, but how. It could either blow outside the glacier, and cause damage locally. Or it could blow inside the glacier — yes, such a thing is possible — sending cascades of smoke and ash into the air that will make flying difficult for some European and American travellers.

Read more:

dumb beliefs of doom....


Plagues, floods and famines often play a central role in religious stories. Research suggests they may have also helped start the belief in some gods in the first place.

A study of 583 religious societies around the world has concluded that humans are more likely to believe in powerful and judgmental gods during times of hardship and extremes of weather. The research may help to shed light on how religions such as Christianity, Judaism and Islam first emerged.

It suggests that believing in a high god, where followers are required to live by certain moral rules, helped to unite communities in harsh environments and when food was scarce.

Dr Carlos Botero, a biologist at North Carolina State University, who led the work, said the harsher the conditions, the more likely was belief in a powerful deity. “Environmental duress and environmental uncertainty can make life very difficult and there is pretty good evidence that these conditions tend to promote sociality in non-human animals, because group living can help individuals thrive when conditions are good and survive when they suddenly turn bad,” Botero said.

“We believe that similar reasons may explain the links between this particular aspect of religious beliefs and resource scarcity or environmental uncertainty. Among humans, there is also good evidence that religious beliefs may help shape social behaviour by, for example, promoting cooperation, fairness and honesty.”

The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, used historical, social and ecological data from between 1900 and 1960 for 583 traditional societies with religious beliefs around the world. These included common religions like Christianity and Islam along with rarer religions such as Zahv, the belief system of the Akha people in south-east Asia.

If you are a regular visitor to this site, your would note that we have shied away from this concept. We have exposed how natural catastrophes tend to reinforce the stupid beliefs in sin and god — which of course we don't believe in. The volcano eruption in Lombok (Indonesia) which sparked this line of comments (read from top) led to self-flagellation in Europe: Idiotic but true.

As recently as 2009, an earthquake "catastrophe" in Italy led some Christian to believe god was punished them for their sins. read: at last, no case to answer... as well


nothing new...

SMALL VOLCANIC ERUPTIONS could be slowing global warming by spewing out sulphur molecules that can reach the upper atmosphere and reflect sunlight away from the Earth, US scientists said on Tuesday.

Researchers have long known that volcanoes can protect against global warming, but they did not think that minor eruptions did much to the atmosphere.

The latest findings in the journal Geophysical Research Letters show that small volcanic eruptions have deflected almost twice the amount of solar radiation previously estimated.

"By knocking incoming solar energy back out into space, sulphuric acid particles from these recent eruptions could be responsible for decreasing global temperatures by 0.05 to 0.12 degrees Celsius since 2000," said the study.

read more:



something new...

As extremes of heat increasingly threaten to become the norm, scientists have invented a new way to reflect sunlight and beam heat away from buildings straight back into space. Tim Radford from the Climate News Network reports.

A NEW MATERIAL – and a new science called nanophotonics – could offer a revolutionary way to cool down the baking cities of tomorrow.

Climate scientists have repeatedly warned that greater extremes of heat will become the norm, and also that as temperatures rise to potentially dangerous levels, the energy costs of new air conditioning investment will significantly feed back into yet more global warming.

But Dr Aaswath Raman, research associate in the Ginzton Laboratory at Stanford University, California, reports with colleagues in Nature journal that seven layers of hafnium oxide and silicon dioxide on a roof could do something very surprising.

Release warmth

They could directly reflect 97% of the sunlight away from the building and at the same time release warmth in exactly the right infrared frequency to pass through the Earth’s atmosphere as if it wasn’t there.

In outdoor daytime tests lasting five hours, the temperatures in the structure below the new material fell to 4.9°C below the temperatures outside. And this effect was achieved without any use of electricity.

This new technique, which the scientists call photonic radiative cooling, could offer new ways of preserving food, chilling vaccines and saving lives in impoverished tropical regions far from any electrical supply.

Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases absorb infrared light, and thus store heat from fossil fuels — but not at the wavelengths of between 8 and 13 micrometres.

Since this 'transparency window' in the atmosphere can be exploited to radiate the heat directly into space, the authors say:

'The cold darkness of the universe can be used as a renewable thermodynamic resource, even during the hottest hours of the day.',7148

The next point is to investigate thoroughly which other gases (or particles) could absorb these wavelengths of infrared and retain the radiating heat in the atmosphere — stopping it going in the black yonder.

a bad idea to use the sky as a dump...


So does Caldeira think it's time to start blasting aerosols into the air? Nope. "It's a funny situation that I feel like I'm in," he says. "Most of our published results show that it would actually work quite well, but personally I think it would be a crazy thing to do." He thinks there's just too much risk.

Caldeira, now a climate scientist at the Carnegie Institution for Science, recently contributed to a massive National Academy of Sciences report examining various geoengineering proposals. The report concluded that technologies to block solar radiation "should not be deployed at this time" and warned that "there is significant potential for unanticipated, unmanageable, and regrettable consequences in multiple human dimensions…including political, social, legal, economic, and ethical dimensions." As my colleague Tim McDonnell explained back when the NAS study was released:

Albedo modification would [use] airplanes or rockets to deliver loads of sulfate aerosols into the stratosphere, where they would bounce sunlight back into space. But if the technology is straightforward, the consequences are anything but.

The aerosols fall out of the air after a matter of years, so they would need to be continually replaced. And if we continued to burn fossil fuels, ever more aerosols would be needed to offset the warming from the additional CO2. [University of California-San Diego scientist Lynn] Russell said that artificially blocking sunlight would have unknown consequences for photosynthesis by plants and phytoplankton, and that high concentrations of sulfate aerosols could produce acid rain. Moreover, if we one day suddenly ceased an albedo modification program, it could cause rapid global warming as the climate adjusts to all the built-up CO2. For these reasons, the report warns that it would be "irrational and irresponsible to implement sustained albedo modification without also pursuing emissions mitigation, carbon dioxide removal, or both."

Still, the NAS report called for further research into albedo modification, just in case we one day reach a point where we seriously consider it.

Caldeira hopes it never comes to that. Like most other advocates of geoengineering research, he'd much rather stave off global warming by drastically cutting carbon emissions. In fact, he calls for a target of zero emissions. But he doesn't have much faith in politicians or in legislative fixes like carbon taxes or cap and trade. "The only way it's really going to happen," he says, "is if there's a change in the social norms." Caldeira envisions a world in which it's socially unacceptable for power companies to "use the sky as a waste dump."


1816 — another year without a summer...

“The year without a summer,” as 1816 came to be known, gave birth not only to paintings of fiery sunsets and tempestuous skies but two genres of gothic fiction. The freakish progeny were Frankenstein and the human vampire, which have loomed large in art and literature ever since.

“The paper trail,” said Dr. Wood, a University of Illinois professor of English, “goes back again and again to Tambora.”

The gargantuan blast — 100 times bigger than Mount St. Helens’s — and its ensuing worldwide pall have been the subject of increasing study over the years as scientists have sought to comprehend not only the planet’s climatological past but the future likelihood of such global disasters.

Clive Oppenheimer, a volcanologist at the University of Cambridge, who has studied the Tambora catastrophe, put the chance of a similar explosion in the next half-century as relatively low — perhaps 10 percent. But the consequences, he added, could run extraordinarily high.

“The modern world,” Dr. Oppenheimer said, “is far from immune to the potentially catastrophic impacts.”

Before it exploded, Tambora was the tallest peak in a land of cloudy summits. It lay atop the tropic isle of Sumbawa, its spires rising nearly three miles. Long dormant, the mountain was considered a home to gods. Villages dotted its slopes, and nearby farmers grew rice, coffee and pepper.

On the evening of April 5, 1815, according to contemporary accounts, flames shot from its summit and the earth rumbled for hours. The volcano then fell silent.


Read from top... Meanwhile CO2 is warming the surface of the planet nonetheless...

rivers and volcanoes...

Volcanic eruptions can reduce water flows in big rivers, according to a new study that cautions against schemes to fight global warming by injecting reflective particles into the sky.

In the first study of its kind, University of Edinburgh scientists Dr Carley Iles and Professor Gabriele Hegerl compared annual water flow in 50 rivers around the world with the timing of major volcanic eruptions, notably Agug in 1963, El Chichon in 1982 and Pinatubo in 1991.

For some rivers, records went back into the 19th century, making it possible to take into account earlier eruptions too.

They discovered that a year or two after these volcanoes belched massive amounts of debris into the upper atmosphere creating a partial sunscreen, the flows of tropical rivers decreased.

read mor:


read from top...

studying the dust...

Scientists are puzzling over what is described as a "missing jigsaw piece" in climate research - the role of dust in global warming.

With huge plumes of particles rising into the atmosphere from deserts and farmland, the question is whether they raise temperatures or lower them.

Massive dust-storms recently engulfed major cities in the Middle East.

So researchers are investigating whether a warmer world will also become dustier.

Prolonged drought in the US state of Oklahoma over the past few years saw a return to conditions that resembled the infamous Dust Bowl of the 1930s.

read more:


The factors of dust composition, colour and of amount can increase or decrease the value of global warming. In the short, medium and long range, dust can only create havoc, without any effect contrary to warming induced by CO2.

air pollution kills...

Standards for air pollution particles linked to lung cancer and restricted lung growth could be set at levels beyond those recommended by the World Health Organisation, doctors and community groups fear.

The concerns come as federal and state environment ministers meet on Tuesday to decide on controls around air pollution in Australia, including a new National Clean Air Agreement.

The Agreement will outline methods for improving air quality, addressing limits for coarse-particle (PM10) and fine-particle (PM2.5) pollution, through action between government and industry.

Read more:
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read from top.

journalist discovers sumpthin'...

Scientists recently discovered a 2,000 kilometre volcanic track of primordial volcanoes across the eastern side of Australia, the longest in the whole world. The Cosgrove track begins with Pinnacle Rock in North Queensland and winds up all the way in Melbourne, a distance three times the length of Yellowstone in the United States.


Hu-ho... A journalist spoke with a scientist and discovered something that many of us, not even scientist nor journalist, knew for at least 40 years. Most serious scientists have know this for much longer....

Anyone in Aussie vulcanology would know that from the Atherton Tablelands to Swan Hill in Victoria, there has been a continuum of hot spot volcanic activity along the Great Dividing range of Australia. Places like the Warrumbungles are remnant of such activity. NOTHING NEW. 

It's actually possible that the Hawaii hot spot has a longer or at least as long volcanic "trace" above and below sea level.

As Continent Australia is moving northward at about 7 centimetres per year, regardless of what's in the way (Indonesia, etc), the volcanic line of the hotspot of its eastern border is thus quite well-know.


Check out hot spots... As a continent drifts over a hot spot (usually stationary in the earth mantle), it creates a line of volcanic activity in various ways according to continental crust resistance and speed of drift. In Hawaii, there is no continental shelf. The sea floor rises to the surface of the ocean in a flurry of volcanic eruptions and gets eroded back into the sea.


See articles from top.

a pox in lombok...


A number of flights between Australia and Bali have been cancelled, with volcanic ash from Mount Rinjani again sparking safety concerns.

Virgin flights from Sydney and Brisbane had to be turned around.

Tigerair flights from Perth, Melbourne and Adelaide have been cancelled, as were three flights from Denpasar.

In a statement, Tigerair said it would provide hotel accommodation compensation for all affected passengers away from home overnight.

It apologised to its customers, but said the situation was outside its control and "safety always comes before schedule".

Tigerair urged passengers to refer to its website as its call centre was experiencing a higher-than-usual volume of calls.

The airline also said it would keep passengers up to date via SMS and email as soon as new information became available.

A spokesman for Jetstar said the airline's flights were "unaffected at this stage".

read more:


read from top...


mucking about in the atmosphere...


On global warming...

As mentioned in the article “What is global warming?” Nitrogen can influence global warming despite being a temperature neutral gas as all the oxides of nitrogen are powerful global warming gases. As well, nitrogen is a powerful fertiliser. Thus the nitrogen cycle is not innocuous as we’d like to think. Use in large quantities, nitrogen fertilisers will eventually find their ways into streams, rivers ad the sea. There the fertilisers will help the growth of algal blooms that in turn will exude nitric oxides. As well, algal blooms are killers of water life. So nitrogen can have deadly effects as well as an indirect strong warming of the atmosphere. At stage farming practises have to be better controlled to minimise or prevent fertilisers going into waterways.

As well, as proper science is not coy about the reality and dangers of global warming, geoengineering is rearing its more or less ugly head off again.

Volcanoes can inject various chemicals into the atmosphere, including sulphur, which can be cooling. Thus the concept that injecting sulphur into the atmosphere could reduce global warming. various scenarios shows that with this we could stop warming at 2 degrees Celsius while we find ways to reduce our CO2 emissions which would have to be negative (that is to say we’d need to scrub the extra CO2 we’ve already pumped into the atmosphere, by 2120.


The next Geoengineeringringgading concept is to seed Cirrus cloud to change their properties. At the moment Cirrus clouds let a lot of energy (heat) of the sun through to the surface of the planet but act at the strong barrier to certain infrared frequencies bouncing back from below. Thus in their own ways, Cirrus clouds are considered warming agents. Cirrus clouds are usual resultant of microscopic ice attaching itself to microscopic particles at high altitudes. By increasing the Cirrus “permeability” to reflected infrared frequencies, we “could” reduce warming of the atmosphere in general. Simple. Changing the “status” of these Cirrus clouds is complicated though. It needs a way to “lower” the altitude of the clouds and make the clouds “coarser” with bigger ice aggregates. As well it is hoped that this would reduce the amount of water vapour in the upper atmosphere, making it cooler thus reducing global warming. This can be possibly achieved by seeding the clouds with specific particles to perform this SAM (stratospheric aerosol modification). This concept would have to be adjusted to “local” conditions and at this stage this is not fool proof. Something could go wrong. 


So our best bet is TO REDUCE OUR ANTHROPOGENIC EMISSIONS OF CO2 to basically zero. Full stop.



Read from top...


See also:

warning: this is dangerous!...

Efforts are underway to reverse global warming by mimicking volcanic eruptions but such dramatic interventions should be approached with caution, according to a new study.

When volcanoes erupt they spew sulphate particles into the air, cooling the Earth by creating a shield that reflects sunlight away from its surface. 

By emitting similar particles into the stratosphere, some scientists have suggested we could imitate this process and reverse climate change in a process termed solar geoengineering.

But creating artificial volcanic eruptions might be as dangerous as it sounds.

read more:



volcanic cooling...

All eyes have been on Mount Agung for the past week, watching the mesmerising clouds of ash pouring out of this tempestuous Indonesian volcano. Right now, the question is whether it is building for a repeat of the devastating eruption in 1963, when lava and lahars (rivers of water and rock) flooded hectares of land in minutes, killing 1,100 people.


While the news bulletins focus on Agung, geologists are starting to feel jittery about another volcano, thousands of kilometres away in Iceland. The unpronounceable Öræfajökull last erupted in 1727, so we don’t have measurements to show how this volcano behaves in the lead-up to an eruption. The glaciated mountain, which is Iceland’s highest volcano, is teasing scientists by producing swarms of small earthquakes under its flanks. “Earthquakes are rare at Öræfajökull, so they may indicate a reawakening,” says Dave McGarvie, a volcanologist at the Open University.

Three people died during the relatively small eruption in 1727, when a meltwater flood swept their farm away. But the really scary eruption occurred in 1362, when sailors reported pumice “in such masses that ships could hardly make their way through it”. Thick volcanic deposits obliterated the rich farmland surrounding the volcano, and ash travelled as far as western Europe.


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another stupid scheme...

Scientists have outlined plans to build a series of mammoth engineering projects in Greenland and Antarctica to help slow down the disintegration of the planet’s main glaciers. The controversial proposals include underwater walls, artificial islands and huge pumping stations that would channel cold water into the bases of glaciers to stop them from melting and sliding into the sea.

The researchers say the work – costing tens of billions of dollars a time – is urgently needed to prevent polar glaciers melting and raising sea levels. That would lead to major inundations of low-lying, densely populated areas, such as parts of Bangladesh, Japan and the Netherlands.

Flooding in these areas is likely to cost tens of trillions of dollars a year if global warming continues at its present rate, and vast sea-wall defences will need to be built to limit the devastation. Such costs make glacier engineering in polar regions a competitive alternative, according to the team, which is led by John Moore, professor of climate change at the University of Lapland.

“We think that geoengineering of glaciers could delay much of Greenland and Antarctica’s grounded ice from reaching the sea for centuries, buying time to address global warming,” the scientists write in the current issue of Nature. “Geoengineering of glaciers has received little attention in journals. Most people assume that it is unfeasible and environmentally undesirable. We disagree.”




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raising its ugly head again...

Proposals for geoengineering projects sound like something out of science fiction.

Pumping aerosols into the upper atmosphere to make clouds more reflective, for example. Or fertilizing oceans with iron to promote the growth of plankton and algae so they consume more carbon dioxide.

Then there are proposals to plant vast swathes of trees in desert areas, or brighten clouds above marine areas to prevent ocean warming.

They sound like drastic interventions because that's what geoengineering is: the active and intentional modification of the climate. 

As the Paris agreement target of limiting global temperature rise to two degrees or less seems increasingly improbable, there has been renewed interest in solutions that once seemed morally challenging, or difficult to contemplate.

To proponents, like Cambridge University's Hugh Hunt, geoengineering could mitigate the worst aspects of climate change, and provide time to look for more permanent solutions. 

"It's a little bit like someone with lung cancer - we're not going to give you a transplant if you're going to carry on smoking," he said. 

"Geoengineering will buy us some time, until we get this sorted out."

Dare not speak its name

Dr Hunt is currently investigating the construction of huge updraft towers in the desert, and using the air flows to generate electricity while stripping the airstream of greenhouse gasses.

He previously worked on a project named SPICE — Stratospheric Particle Injection for Climate Engineering — which looked at sending a tethered balloon 20km above to earth to seed aerosols into the stratosphere. 

In theory, the particles would change the optical properties of sunlight, reflecting more solar radiation into space and reducing global temperatures.

The idea was to emulate natural volcanic events, like the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines, which caused global cooling of one degree for about a year.


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Read from top. STOP THESE CRAZY IDEAS... The only way to mitigate global warming properly without crating more harm is to quickly reduce and stop our emissions of CO2. Full stop. 



driving off a cliff at 120 miles an hour is "not as bad as we thought"...even on a bicycle...


adding fuel to the fire...

A new report makes the case that the fossil fuel industry prefers geoengineering as an approach for addressing climate change because it allows the industry to keep arguing for continued fossil fuel use.

In Fuel to the Fire: How Geoengineering Threatens to Entrench Fossil Fuels and Accelerate the Climate Crisis, the Center for International Environmental Law (CEIL) warns that geoengineering, which includes technologies to remove huge amounts of carbon dioxide and to shoot particles into the atmosphere to block sunlight, potentially offers more of a problem for the climate than a solution.

“Our research shows that nearly all proposed geoengineering strategies fail a fundamental test: do they reduce emissions and help end our reliance on fossil fuels?” said CIEL President Carroll Muffett, who co-authored the report with the support of the Heinrich Boell Foundation.


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more crap from the sulfur-dioxide mad people...

Published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Climate Change, the analysis finds that cooling the Earth enough to eliminate roughly half of warming, rather than all of it, generally would not make tropical cyclones more intense or worsen water availability, extreme temperatures or extreme rain. Only a small fraction of places, 0.4%, might see climate change impacts worsened, the study says.

Many climate experts have warned that cooling the Earth but keeping twice as much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere as before industrialization could put some regions at risk.

One scientist who read the paper published on Monday said it was not comprehensive enough to conclude that solar geoengineering – most likely involving spraying sulphur dioxide into the atmosphere, thereby mimicking gas from volcanoes and reflecting the sun’s heat – would be safe.

Some climate advocacy groups argue that banking on an unproven technology could hamstring efforts to reduce carbon dioxide still spewing from power plants and cars.

But study co-author David Keith, a Harvard professor who works in engineering and public policy, said researchers should not rule out geoengineering yet.


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playing evil edward hyde with sulphur...

It's 2030 — a bit over 10 years from now — and a fleet of modified cargo planes take off carrying an unusual payload.

They're headed 20 kilometres up — way above where existing commercial aircraft fly — where they will spray tonnes of sulfate particles into the stratosphere.

By the end of the century special planes like this will be making 300,000 flights a year to deliver millions of tonnes of sulfate particles to reflect sunlight. 

It's a last-ditch effort to save the world from dangerous warming because we haven't been able to get our greenhouse emissions under control.

You might think this giant planetary sunshade sounds far-fetched, but some scientists starting to research this technology think we may well need such "a brutally ugly technical fix". 

However others argue that such a speculative technology — known as "stratospheric aerosol injection" —poses even greater risks than climate change itself.


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a fathomless hypocritical cloud...

A government-backed research program to make the Great Barrier Reef more resilient to global heating will spend $4.7m this financial year developing technologies that could shade corals and make clouds more reflective during marine heatwaves.

The announcement confirms the development of a technique known as marine cloud brightening, trialled on the reef in March, will be backed as part of the government’s $443m grant being coordinated by the not-for-profit Great Barrier Reef Foundation.

On Tuesday the government and the foundation announced how it would spend $96m this financial year under the Reef Trust Partnership – the $443m collaboration between government and the foundation.

Included in the spending for this financial year is more than $15m to try and control coral-eating crown-of-thorns starfish, $39m to improve water quality and more than $3m for community-based projects, including citizen science.

Earlier this year the reef suffered its third mass coral bleaching event in five years. About one quarter of the reef suffered severe bleaching in the most widespread event ever recorded, affecting the full length of the 2,300km world heritage marine park.

Dr Daniel Harrison of Southern Cross University is the scientific lead for the $4.7m program to investigate cooling and shading techniques.

Harrison told Guardian Australia: “We want to know if this will work, and we want to know as quickly as possible.

“It’s critical that [greenhouse gas] emissions come down, but that alone won’t preserve a lot of the ecosystem value of the reef so we need to do other things as well.”

About half of the $4.7m will be spent developing atmospheric modelling and monitoring to understand how particles in the air that clouds need to form behave over the reef.



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And while the CONservative mongrels play god in the clouds, they also invest YOUR cash in coal power, coal mines and coal whatever feasability... And they don't blink! A fathomless hypocrisy!



no geo-crap engineering, please...

“Real” Geoengineering News

Stratospheric Controlled Perturbation Experiment (SCoPEx), a controversial program aimed at reversing the climate crisis that we covered here several weeks ago suffered a recent blow after its chairwoman stepped down.

The program is based at Harvard University and until July 22 had an advisory council chaired by the director of the California Strategic Growth Council, Louise Bedsworth. But after coming under scrutiny both from global climate justice groups and in a June 19 story by The Real News Network, Bedsworth has stepped down from the post.

The scrutiny was aimed at the technology for which the research group is pushing to develop a governance mechanism, called solar geoengineering or solar radiation management, for reflecting sunlight away from the Earth to halt the greenhouse effect of climate change. That technofix—which involves spraying aerosols into the atmosphere for an indefinite period of time to shield the Earth—is seen by many as both potentially dangerous to deploy and also a way to continue business as usual in emitting greenhouse gases.


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stop the balloon...

A proposed scientific balloon flight in northern Sweden has attracted opposition from environmental groups over fears it could lead to the use of solar geoengineering to cool the Earth and combat the climate crisis by mimicking the effect of a large volcanic eruption.

In June, a team of Harvard scientists is planning to launch a high-altitude balloon from Kiruna in Lapland to test whether it can carry equipment for a future small-scale experiment on radiation-reflecting particles in the Earth’s atmosphere.


An independent advisory committee will rule on whether to approve the balloon test flight by 15 February. Swedish environmental groups have written to the government and the Swedish Space Corporation (SSC) to voice their opposition.

In the letters, seen by the Guardian, organisations including the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation, Greenpeace Sweden and Friends of the Earth Sweden said that while the balloon flight scheduled for June does not involve the release of particles, it could be the first step towards the adoption of a potentially “dangerous, unpredictable, and unmanageable” technology.

Stratospheric aerosols are a key component of solar geoengineering technology that some have proposed as a plan B for controlling the Earth’s temperature if the climate crisis makes conditions intolerable and governments do not take sufficient action.

Studies have found that widespread adoption of solar geoengineering could be inexpensive and safer than some fear. But critics argue the consequences of its use are not well understood and stratospheric aerosol injections (SAI) on a large scale could damage the ozone layer, cause heating in the stratosphere and disrupt ecosystems.

Harvard professor Frank Keutsch, who leads the research group hoping to conduct the SCoPEx – stratospheric controlled perturbation experiment – said he shared many of the environmentalists’ concerns. He said the research could help scientists better understand the potential risks of solar geoengineering, if the experiments are allowed to go ahead.

“The risk of not doing research on this outweighs the risk of doing this research,” Keutsch told the Guardian, offering to speak to the Swedish environmental groups about the issues they have raised.

“I’m really worried about the world we are heading towards. For me, that is a reason to do research on solar radiation management. Climate change is a problem of profound size and potentially profound impact on humanity. I think we should be considering all kinds of options because it’s unlikely that there is going to be a silver bullet that will fix everything. We need to be considering all options and we need to do research on them.”

So far the technology is at a theoretical stage. It would replicate the effect of sulphur dioxide particles released in volcanic eruptions; these linger in the Earth’s stratosphere and reflect solar radiation. Particles from the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines in 1991 cooled global temperatures by around 0.6C for 15 months.

The Harvard researchers hope SCoPEx will advance solar geoengineering models and improve understanding of the technology’s potential risks and benefits through small-scale experiments on aerosols of calcium carbonate and other substances about 12 miles (20km) above the Earth’s surface.

The scientists said they would abide by the ruling of the board, and the advisory group told the Guardian that any experiment involving a release of particles would require a broader review, including engagement with Swedish civil society.

The letter to Per Bolund, the Swedish minister for environment and climate, from the environmental groups, reads: “While the first stratospheric flight proposed for Kiruna intends to test the balloon and gondola equipment, the stated purpose of the flight is to prepare for the release of aerosols into the stratosphere later in the year.



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a bad gates idea...

Sweden’s space agency has called off a geoengineering experiment to determine whether blotting out the sun with aerosols could reverse global warming. Funded by Bill Gates, the project stoked fierce opposition from eco groups.

Proposed by researchers at Harvard University, the Stratospheric Controlled Perturbation Experiment, or SCoPEx, ultimately planned to release a cloud of calcium carbonate – more commonly known as chalk dust – into the atmosphere from a high-altitude balloon to study its effects on sunlight reaching earth. The project proved too controversial, however, and on Wednesday the Swedish Space Corporation (SSC) said that a test flight set for June would not move forward.

“The scientific community is divided regarding geoengineering, including any related technology tests such as the planned technical balloon test flight from Esrange this summer,” the SSC said in a statement on Wednesday.

SSC has had dialogues this spring with both leading experts on geo-engineering and with other stakeholders, as well as with the SCoPEx Advisory Board. As a result of these dialogues and in agreement with Harvard, SSC has decided not to conduct the technical test flight planned for this summer.

Planned for the Arctic town of Kiruna, the June flight would have merely tested the balloon’s systems to pave the way for the study, but local activists have vocally opposed the initiative. In a joint letter penned last month, the Saami Council – which advocates for Sweden’s indigenous Saami people – and three environmental groups warned that the SCoPEx experiment could have “catastrophic consequences.”

While SCoPEx’s website states the experiment would pose “no significant hazard to people or the environment” and would release only a small amount of particles into the air, the Saami Council has opposed solar geoengineering in concept, saying it “essentially attempts to mimic volcanic eruptions by continuously spewing the sky with sun-dimming particles.” The activist groups also argued SCoPEx could distract from the goal of reducing carbon emissions and have “irreversible sociopolitical effects that could compromise the world’s necessary efforts to achieve zero-carbon societies.”

The experiment has received backing from Harvard’s Solar Geoengineering Research Program, whose website names billionaire climate crusader Bill Gates among its private donors, though it does not specify his contribution. Previously, a lead researcher working on SCoPEx, David Keith of Harvard, separately received at least $4.6 million from Gates for his Fund for Innovative Climate and Energy Research (FICER), according to the Guardian. Founded in 2007, FICER also funds research into solar geoengineering.



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a mini ice age...


The massive trove from the early Germanic Age, weighing nearly a kilogram, is believed to have been a sacrificial gift to the gods to prevent what is now seen as a climate catastrophe.

A historic gold trove of 22 gold objects have been found on the outskirts of a cornfield close to the town of Jelling, which served as the Royal seat for Danish kings during the Viking Age and is home to the Jelling stones.

The find, weighing nearly a kilogram, was made at the end of December 2020 by an inexperienced hobby archaeologist.

Since then, specialists from the Vejle Museum and the National Museum have in all discretion closely studied the numerous gold objects that are believed to have been hidden under the South Jutland soil for 1,500 years.

Kæmpe guldskat fra jernalderen fundet nær Jelling: En dansk amatørarkæolog står bag fundet af skatten, der næsten vejer et kilo og gemte på guld-medaljoner på størrelse med underkopper. #dkvid #dkforsk

— (@videnskabdk) September 5, 2021


​Even seasoned experts are overwhelmed and have had a hard time finding superlatives to describe their enthusiasm.

“On a scale from 1 to 10, this find is a twelver. It is on a par with the Golden Horns [of Gallehus],” Morten Axboe, museum inspector emeritus at the National Museum, told Danish Radio, alluding to the 5th-century find from the early Germanic Age which were found in 1639 and 1734.

His colleague and fellow National Museum inspector Peter Vang Petersen couldn't hide his joy either.

“It is the most beautiful gold find I have seen in my years as inspector. This is world class. It really is a dream find,” he said.

The majority of the golden objects are so-called bracteates or single-sided medals worn as jewellery popular during the Migration Period of the Germanic Age.

“Some of the bracteates are bigger than matchboxes, and then there is the quality of the gold. It is actually quite heavy,” Mads Ravn, the head of research at the Vejle Museum said.

However, it is not only the size of the medals that is exceptional. The decoration is important too.

“It's professional craftsmanship. Really top class!”, Peter Vang Petersen of the National Museum said.

Several of the bracteates feature runic writings and detailed motifs of divine and mythological figures, which provide an insight into proto-Scandinavians' beliefs from around the 450-500 AD period, to which, according to Morten Axboe, the bracteates date back.


Morten Axboe's hypothesis is that the golden trove was a sacrificial gift that was “to make the sun shine again”. The thing is that in the year 536, the world is thought to have been plagued by what is now seen as climate catastrophe.

The sparse written sources from that time described that the sun “lost its strength” that year. Italian sources reported that it had acquired a bluish tinge and didn't shine brightly enough to cast shadows, even in the middle of the day. In other parts of the world, frost was reported during summer, resulting in poor harvests and famine.

Axboe's hypothesis is that the massive golden trove was sacrificed in a desperate attempt to win back Earth's nearest star.


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The June 1991 Pinatubo eruption in the Philippines was one of the largest volcanic eruptions of the twentieth century. It is well documented. There are living witnesses, newspaper articles, detailed surveys of the mountain before and after it blew its top, and satellite maps of the ejecta. The eruption was photographed from the ground and the air, and today you can even YouTube it.

Pinatubo released up to 20 megatons of sulphur dioxide as many as 35 kilometers into the sky. It turned into fine sulphuric acid aerosol, and, within weeks, enveloped much of the Earth. The aerosols were suspended in the atmosphere for around two years. While there, they "veiled" the sun by absorbing or "backscattering" solar radiation. That heated the stratosphere but cooled Earth's surface. The volcano caused a sudden (but non-uniform) fall in average global temperatures of at least .5 degrees Celsius that was still in effect as late as late 1992. In the Northern Hemisphere, temperatures in summer 1992 fell by about 2 degrees Celsius.

Earlier and much larger volcanic eruptions in the late Holocene are more obscure. Take Tambora, which erupted in April 1815 and pumped 60 to 110 megatons of sulphur dioxide into the air, leading to one of the most infamous ‘Years Without a Summer’. No volcanologist or climate scientist doubts it dwarfed Pinatubo, but far less is known about the earlier eruption. There are fewer firsthand accounts, and no films or photos (though some argue Joseph Turner and other artists captured its far-reaching atmospheric effects). While the available instrumental data are useful, they are limited and local. Nevertheless, scientists have determined that it was one of the biggest volcanic episodes of the last several thousand years. A recent study estimated that it resulted, in some regions, in 2 to 4 degrees Celsius of cooling from June to August, 1816. 
There were other large events, deeper in the historical past. Yet these episodes are far more mysterious. Often the culpable volcano (or volcanoes) is not known, and firsthand accounts (if any) are more than vague: they are cryptic. 

For example, something traumatic appears to have affected the world in around the year 536 CE. The five reports that survive for this "536 event" say nothing of an eruption. They merely describe in vague terms a sort of unusual sun dimming or atmospheric veiling. The Roman statesman Cassiodorus, for example, describes a dim moon, and a sun that lost its "wonted light" and appeared "bluish," as if in "transitory eclipse throughout the whole year."

​These reports leave room to doubt that the phenomenon they describe was really volcanic in origin. Their mysteriousness, however, has spurred intense interest from scholars and enthusiasts since the phenomenon first appeared in the pages of the Journal of Geophysical Research, in 1983. NASA geoscientists Richard Stothers and Michael Rampino discovered a stratosphere-clouding volcanic episode tucked away in four (but, by 1988, five) late antique texts. They also found it in sulphate in Greenlandic ice, and they discovered pumice-lodged wood they date to 540 ±90 CE (meaning give or take 90 years), on Rabaul, a volcano in Papua New Guinea. 
Since 1983, much has changed. Rabaul is long gone. Even before it seemed the dust veil witnessed (inconsistently) over the Mediterranean was not a volcanic dust veil, but instead some sort of "damp fog," the mountain was considered an unlikely source. In the 1980s, assessments of Antarctic ice did not turn up major mid sixth-century volcanism, but rather a signal from about 505 CE. That exonerated all Southern Hemispheric volcanoes from causing the 536 event. Rabual’s eruption chronology was re-dated with greater precision at least twice within eleven years, and it was determined that the 540±90 date was, in fact, an uncalibrated mix-up of the ages originally returned for the pumiceous wood. Rabaul actually exploded sometime in the interval of 633-670 CE, or (as of 2015) 667-699 CE.
Other volcanoes got their share of attention too. Before Rabaul, the Greenlandic sulphates were associated with the great ‘White River Ash’ eruption of Alaska’s Mount Churchill, which was dated roughly in 1975 to 700 ±100 CE, but in 2014 to 833-850 CE. They were also loosely associated with Iceland’s Eldgjá, which is well-known for erupting in the 930s. After, they were tied to the Chiapanecan El Chichón, Indonesia’s infamous Krakatoa, the now-dormant stratovolcano Haruna, and the El Savadorian Ilopango. The latter received considerable press in 2010, when palaeoecologist Robert Dull asserted its ‘paroxysmal’ Tierra Blanca Joven event, considered the largest Central American eruption of the last 84,000 years, and previously given third- and fifth- century dates, actually caused global cooling in 536 CE.

Yet for a while after 1983, scientists could find no eruptions in 536 CE. The original ice dates of 540 ±10 and c. 535 CE that Stothers and Rampino used to explain the abnormal Byzantine veiling were adjusted in 1984, at around the same time that Stother’s second, more influential article on a volcanic 536 event appeared in Science. This does not now seem surprising. The dates that scientists have given for most first-millennium eruptions have shifted back or forward in time at some point or another. Analyses of the remnants of eruptions in eruption-site sediments often produce ages that disagree by a half century or more. Studies of sulphate layers in ice cores also vary: a couple years in some cases, a decade or five in others.

For more than a decade after 1983, it seemed that the 536 event had other causes. Explanations were diverse. Some held that the clouding Procopius and his peers had witnessed was tropospheric and regional, not a stratospheric phenomenon of hemispheric or global proportions. Volcanism that was local and remarkable, but globally inconsequential, was the cause of some kind of low-hanging ‘damp fog’.

Others held firm: volcano or no volcano, the event was global. Oceanic outgassing, an interstellar cloud, and an asteroid or comet impact event were proposed. The latter, advanced in the early ‘90s, was not immediately popular. Some scholars considered an impactor a "much less likely" explanation for the 536 event than a major volcanic eruption, despite the then-complete lack of evidence for such an eruption. Yet the impact theory eventually gained some credibility. Different types of rocks and impacts were envisioned. A comet might have "air-bursted"’ in the upper atmosphere and ignited one or more vast forest fires, or alternatively a "medium-sized asteroid" struck an ocean and threw marine aerosols into the stratosphere. The impact of a comet less than one kilometer in diameter could have loaded the sky with enough debris to generate multiple successive years of cooling. Even after volcanic eruptions could again be convincingly tied to 536 CE cooling, some scientists argued that an asteroid 640 metres in diameter crashed into Australia, compounding the chilling effect of volcanic eruptions and carving out the Gulf of Carpentaria.
The impactor theory failed to convince many for long. Michael Baillie, a tree ring expert (or "Dendrochronologist") who first advocated the theory in a 1994 article, sided with volcanic explanations after glaciologist Lars Larsen and his team found evidence for a major eruption in multiple ice cores at both poles. This big, low-latitude, Tropical event was affixed a date of 533/534 ±2 CE. It seemed to explain why the "sun’s rays," according to John of Ephesus, "were visible for only two or three hours a day" in 536/37 CE. Larsen also drew attention to "an even larger" Northern Hemisphere deposit, which he dated to 529 ±2 CE. This may not have seemed important at the time, since there are no written sources that suggest anything strange about 529 CE. Yet, only months later, Baillie drew on a growing quantity of tree ring data to suggest that both newly discovered eruptions be moved forward by six or seven years. This adjustment offered an explanation for the unusual tree-ring signals he had highlighted in the early 1990s.
Tree ring data significantly altered scientific understandings of what happened in the sixth century. Independently of texts and ice, tree rings suggest a major disturbance in 536 CE. Tree ring data, unknown to Stothers and Rampino in the 1980s, give perhaps the best record of the sixth-century event. They give annual information with an objectivity that sixth-century historians cannot match. Together, they have a temporal and spatial "awareness" no written source can rival. 

Mediterranean texts describe the 536 event as 12 or perhaps 18 months long, but Baillie surveyed trees from Ireland, Germany, Scandinavia and the U.S.A. that clearly show that the event lasted for roughly a decade. Tree rings also demonstrate that the 536 event was not a Byzantine oddity. Rather, it was vast: hemispheric or even global. Trees also reveal not one steady stretch of poor growth but a marked departure from normal growing conditions, with acute troughs and peaks. Some scholars therefore believed that a cluster of stratosphere-clouding phenomena were to blame, not a single cataclysm. The first nadir was in 536-537 CE, while the second, and more pronounced, was in 540-541 CE. More recent tree ring studies have highlighted a third low in 546-547 CE. This one, and another in the early 550s, were already visible in Baillie’s original work, but they were not much discussed.
Over the last twenty years, tree ring studies have confirmed that the 536 event was hemispheric, and at a point global, and that it lasted for more than a decade. Multiple tree ring temperature reconstructions have found several of the coldest growing seasons (typically June-August) of the last two (or, in some cases, seven-and-a-half) thousand years fall within the sixth-century downturn.

A few examples: a 1993 paper identified 536, 535, and 541 CE as the second, third, and fourth-coldest growing seasons in a 2,000-year-long chronology from Sierra Nevada. A 2001 paper used a Mongolian tree ring series that was nearly as long, and found unusually chilly temperatures from 536 to 545 CE, with low points in 536 and 543 CE. A 2015 study used a composite northern hemisphere chronology stretching back to 500 BCE, and established the successive decades of 536-545 and 546-555 as the coldest and tenth-coldest decades in the series. According to the same series, six of the thirteen coldest years between 500 BCE to 1250 CE happened during the sixth-century climatic downturn. 
The "Baillie bump," the forward-pushing of Larsen's eruptions (and now most first millennium eruptions detected in ice), placed major volcanism at each of the cooling episodes identified in tree ring data. Michael Sigl and a team of scientists recently included these results within an important synthesis of glacial volcanic eruption chronologies. It is still not clear which volcanoes erupted in 535/536 and 539/540 CE, but a cluster of volcanoes seem to have caused the downturn.
Still, there may be room to doubt whether Cassidorus and company took in a hemispheric event in 536 CE. They may well have witnessed a local disturbance. Procopius has Vesuvius bubbling, but not erupting, in 536 CE. Whether this ‘extinguisher or all things green’ erupted around then  - or perhaps another nearby mountain - we do not know. Minor, nearby volcanism may have coincided with a much larger, distant eruption. One would have veiled Mediterranean skies, while the other marked the world’s trees. Tree rings from Constantinople’s hinterland may support this theory, since they have failed to reflect a major change in growth from 536 to 550 CE. 

Of course, it may still be that an impactor near-simultaneously fell to Earth from space. Dallas Abbott and her team have recently found iron oxide, silicate spherules, and other ejecta indicators in the melt-water of a portion of a sixth-century Greenlandic ice core. They interpreted a high concentration of calcium as calcium carbonate, a main component in seashells, and detected tropical aquatic microfossils: a first for Greenlandic ice. It is evidence for an impact at sea, which then sent marine aerosols into the stratosphere. 
For years, the 536 event or 536-550 CE downturn figured as a particularly cold stretch (in fact the coldest) in a long cool phase that set in more than a century before 536 CE and has many names: The "Vandal Minimum," the "Early Medieval Cold Period," or the "Migration Period Pessimum." Very recently, a multidisciplinary study concluded that that the 536-550 event triggered a longer cold period within this Minimum. They call it the "Late Antique Little Ice Age," and argue that it was possibly even chillier and more unstable than the better-known early modern Little Ice Age. 

Did this cooling have profound consequences for sixth-century societies? Maybe, yet historians came to the 536 event rather late. In 2005, historian Antti Arjava wrote an interdisciplinary appraisal of the evidence for a sixth-century cooling event. Aside from Arjava, the few historians who have wrestled with the clouding have not attempted a complete or current synthesis of the written and scientific evidence. Arjava's paper has therefore served as the main conduit for historians and archaeologists for the science surrounding the 536 event. However, Arjava wrote his paper in the years when scientists could not match the event with a volcanic eruption. The paper plays up the cloud’s mysteriousness, and diminishes its extent and impact. A reading of John the Lydian’s account, one fuller and closer than that offered by Stothers, led to the conclusion the event was Mediterranean specific, more of a fog than a veil, and damp, not dry. That and the lack of consistent evidence for poor harvests and food shortage in the 530s suggested the cloud had little effect on contemporary societies.

Much has changed since 2005. It is more difficult now to diminish the downturn or doubt that it triggered a marked, though temporary, demographic contraction in many regions of the world through its effects on plants. However, minimalist readings remain popular. They are still, if mostly through Arjava, a reaction to a pair of catastrophist books on 536 published in 1999 by Keys (Catastrophe) and Baillie (Catastrophic Encounters with Comets). The books argued for far-reaching and at times unfathomable historical consequences from mystery clouding, from Teotihaucan’s fall to China’s reunification, from Islam’s emergence and Charlemagne’s birth to England’s colonization of North America and Japan’s modern nation state. A reluctance to engage with the palaeoclimate sciences and a willingness to write nature out of history have allowed historians to dismiss the significance of the 536 event for contemporary peoples. 

​Recently, more scientifically-minded historians, such as Michael McCormick, have offered more appropriate (if maximalist-leaning) narratives, in which cooling had moderate implications for sixth-century peoples. A vast, near-unparalleled environmental event need not have cataclysmic consequences to warrant study. Histories of resilience and adaptation to sudden and dramatic climate change should be as important and intriguing as histories of failure and collapse. This is clear in new work on the effects of the downturn, from the Yucatán to Fennoscandia, which emphasizes coping strategies and a certain hardiness in those that lived beneath the veils.

Although not everyone would have come out from under the dust worse off, it is important to not let the pendulum swing back too far. After all, there are indications from across Eurasia of subsistence crises. Read together, these reports suggest a rather uneven occurrence of downturn-triggered crop failure and genuine famine. That clouding density and duration undoubtedly varied, and people were not everywhere equally vulnerable, might account for this patchiness. So too the concurrence of other natural and cultural pressures in some areas.

It should be emphasized that large eruptions do not simply chill the world. The effects on weather and climate are non-uniform. They are regional and can differ markedly, as Pinatubo and Tambora have shown. Tropical eruptions, such as the 539/540 event, also exercise a different force on climate than high latitude Northern Hemispheric ones, like 535/536. For instance, major near-equatorial volcanism is known to cause winter warming in North America, Europe, and Russia, but winter cooling in Western and Eastern Asia. Extratropical Northern Hemispheric volcanism cools hot and cold seasons alike. Seasonality matters too. That high latitude eruptions seem to be more impactful if they occur in summer could indicate that the 535/536 eruption happened in that season.
A few contemporary reports of despair and devastation seem hyperbolic. Did Italian mothers really eat their daughters? Did three quarters of the population north of the Yellow river really die off? Yet neither they, nor less-sensational descriptions, should be written off as lacking any grounding in the immediate post-eruption reality. Most sixth-century societies were able to absorb one bad year, but very few were able to absorb two or three. Back-to-back(-to-back) years of poor growing conditions, caused by a sharp cooling of average temperatures, were certain to take a toll.
An eruption cluster - multiple Tambora-like events within a few years of each other - caused the mid sixth-century downturn. Whether an impactor was roughly coincident is uncertain. The variability of the effects of both eruptions on climate and the extent and regionality of the loss of life are uncertain as well. Sixth-century cooling may well have helped cause the outbreak of the "Plague of Justinian" - the so-called "First Bubonic Plague Pandemic" - with profound demographic consequences. This link, and other enduring mysteries of the sixth-century downturn, will be the subject of a future article on this site. 

~Tim Newfield


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