Articles | Volume 12, issue 6
Clim. Past, 12, 1361–1374, 2016
Clim. Past, 12, 1361–1374, 2016

Research article 22 Jun 2016

Research article | 22 Jun 2016

Climatic effects and impacts of the 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora in the Czech Lands

Rudolf Brázdil1,2, Ladislava Řezníčková1,2, Hubert Valášek1,3, Lukáš Dolák1,2, and Oldřich Kotyza4 Rudolf Brázdil et al.
  • 1Institute of Geography, Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic
  • 2Global Change Research Institute, Czech Academy of Sciences, Brno, Czech Republic
  • 3Moravian Land Archives, Brno, Czech Republic
  • 4Regional Museum, Litoměřice, Czech Republic

Abstract. The eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia in 1815 was one of the most powerful of its kind in recorded history. This contribution addresses climatic responses to it, the post-eruption weather, and its impacts on human life in the Czech Lands. The climatic effects are evaluated in terms of air temperature and precipitation on the basis of long-term homogenised series from the Prague-Klementinum and Brno meteorological stations, and mean Czech series in the short term (1810–1820) and long term (1800–2010). This analysis is complemented by other climatic and environmental data derived from rich documentary evidence. Czech documentary sources make no direct mention of the Tambora eruption, neither do they relate any particular weather phenomena to it, but they record an extremely wet summer for 1815 and an extremely cold summer for 1816 (the "Year Without a Summer") that contributed to bad grain harvests and widespread grain price increases in 1817. Possible reasons for the cold summers in the first decade of the 19th century reflected in the contemporary press included comets, sunspot activity, long-term cooling and finally – as late as 1817 – earthquakes with volcanic eruptions.

Short summary
The paper deals with climatic and human impacts of the strong Tambora (Indonesia) volcanic eruption in April 1815 over the Czech Lands territory based on analysis of documentary data and instrumental records. While climatic effects were related particularly to summers 1815 and 1816 (1816 is known as "a Year Without Summer"), quite important were societal impacts represented after bad harvest by steep increase in prices and shortages of food.