, Volume 76, Issue 3-4, pp 443-457
Date: 10 Jun 2006

The Possible Climatic Impact in China of Iceland's Eldgjá Eruption Inferred from Historical Sources

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Abstract

Based on Chinese historical sources, the possible climatic impact in China of the prolonged Eldgjá eruption starting around 934 AD was investigated. An extremely hot summer was reported in 934 AD; hundreds of people died of the intense heat of this summer in Luoyang, the capital of the Later Tang Empire (923–936 AD). Snowless (and possibly also mild) winters probably occurred successively following the Eldgjá eruption until 938 AD. In 939 AD, cold weather set in abruptly and lasted for about 3 years; whereas peak cooling occurred in 939AD. In the summer of 939 AD, it snowed in the southeast of the Inner Mongolia Plateau (about 40–44N, 113–123E). From 939AD to 941 AD, hard winters occurred successively in China. Worse, unprecedented drought and plague of locusts broke out in 942 AD and persisted in 943 AD. More than several hundred thousand people were starved to death. This catastrophe was at least partly responsible for the collapse of the Later Jin Dynasty in China. By comparison with the tree-ring evidence and uncovered European historical evidence, the spatial response to the Eldgjá eruption appeared to be complex, whereas hemispheric or global cooling occurred in 939–942 AD.