Prominent role of volcanism in Common Era climate variability and human history

Büntgen, Ulf; Arseneault, Dominique; Boucher, Étienne; Churakova (Sidorova), Olga V.; Gennaretti, Fabio; Crivellaro, Alan; Hughes, Malcolm K.; Kirdyanov, Alexander V.; Klippel, Lara; Krusic, Paul J.; Linderholm, Hans W.; Ljungqvist, Fredrik C.; Ludescher, Josef; McCormick, Michael; Myglan, Vladimir S.; Nicolussi, Kurt; Piermattei, Alma; Oppenheimer, Clive; Reinig, Frederick; Sigl, Michael; ... (2020). Prominent role of volcanism in Common Era climate variability and human history. Dendrochronologia, 64, p. 125757. Elsevier 10.1016/j.dendro.2020.125757

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Climate reconstructions for the Common Era are compromised by the paucity of annually-resolved and absolutely-dated proxy records prior to medieval times. Where reconstructions are based on combinations of different climate archive types (of varying spatiotemporal resolution, dating uncertainty, record length and predictive skill), it is challenging to estimate past amplitude ranges, disentangle the relative roles of natural and anthropogenic forcing, or probe deeper interrelationships between climate variability and human history. Here, we compile and analyse updated versions of all the existing summer temperature sensitive tree-ring width chronologies from the Northern Hemisphere that span the entire Common Era. We apply a novel ensemble approach to reconstruct extra-tropical summer temperatures from 1 to 2010 CE, and calculate uncertainties at continental to hemispheric scales. Peak warming in the 280s, 990s and 1020s, when volcanic forcing was low, was comparable to modern conditions until 2010 CE. The lowest June–August temperature anomaly in 536 not only marks the beginning of the coldest decade, but also defines the onset of the Late Antique Little Ice Age (LALIA). While prolonged warmth during Roman and medieval times roughly coincides with the tendency towards societal prosperity across much of the North Atlantic/European sector and East Asia, major episodes of volcanically-forced summer cooling often presaged widespread famines, plague outbreaks and political upheavals. Our study reveals a larger amplitude of spatially synchronized summer temperature variation during the first millennium of the Common Era than previously recognised.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

08 Faculty of Science > Physics Institute > Climate and Environmental Physics
10 Strategic Research Centers > Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research (OCCR)

UniBE Contributor:

Sigl, Michael

Subjects:

500 Science > 530 Physics
500 Science > 540 Chemistry
500 Science > 550 Earth sciences & geology
900 History > 930 History of ancient world (to ca. 499)
900 History > 940 History of Europe
900 History > 950 History of Asia

ISSN:

1125-7865

Publisher:

Elsevier

Funders:

[18] European Research Council

Projects:

[1314] Timing of Holocene volcanic eruptions and their radiative aerosol forcing

Language:

English

Submitter:

Michael Sigl

Date Deposited:

02 Nov 2020 08:59

Last Modified:

15 Nov 2020 02:44

Publisher DOI:

10.1016/j.dendro.2020.125757

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.147099

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/147099

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