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Year Without a Summer

Year Without a Summer

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The Year Without a Summer (also known as the Poverty Year, Year There Was No Summer, and Eighteen Hundred and Froze to Death) was 1816, in which severe summer climate
Climate
Climate encompasses the statistics of temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, wind, rainfall, atmospheric particle count and other meteorological elemental measurements in a given region over long periods...

 abnormalities caused average global temperatures to decrease by about 0.4–0.7 °C (0.7–1.3 °F), resulting in major food shortages across the Northern Hemisphere
Northern Hemisphere
The Northern Hemisphere is the half of a planet that is north of its equator—the word hemisphere literally means “half sphere”. It is also that half of the celestial sphere north of the celestial equator...

. It is believed that the anomaly was caused by a combination of a historic low in solar activity
Dalton Minimum
The Dalton Minimum was a period of low solar activity, named after the English meteorologist John Dalton, lasting from about 1790 to 1830. Like the Maunder Minimum and Spörer Minimum, the Dalton Minimum coincided with a period of lower-than-average global temperatures...

 with a volcanic winter
Volcanic winter
A volcanic winter is the reduction in temperature caused by volcanic ash and droplets of sulfuric acid obscuring the sun and raising Earth's albedo after a large particularly explosive type of volcanic eruption...

 event, the latter caused by a succession of major volcanic eruptions capped off by the Mount Tambora eruption of 1815
1815 eruption of Mount Tambora
The 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora was the most powerful in recorded history and classified as a VEI-7 event. Mount Tambora is situated on the island of Sumbawa in Indonesia. The eruption was followed by between six months and three years of increased steaming and small phreatic eruptions...

, the largest known eruption in over 1,300 years.

Historian John D. Post has called this "the last great subsistence crisis in the Western world".

Description


The unusual climatic aberrations of 1816 had the greatest effect on the northeastern United States
Northeastern United States
The Northeastern United States is a region of the United States as defined by the United States Census Bureau.-Composition:The region comprises nine states: the New England states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont; and the Mid-Atlantic states of New...

, Atlantic Canada
Atlantic Canada
Atlantic Canada is the region of Canada comprising the four provinces located on the Atlantic coast, excluding Quebec: the three Maritime provinces – New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia – and Newfoundland and Labrador...

, and parts of western Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

. Typically, the late spring and summer of the northeastern U.S. and southeastern Canada are relatively stable: temperatures (average of both day and night) average about 20–25 °C
Celsius
Celsius is a scale and unit of measurement for temperature. It is named after the Swedish astronomer Anders Celsius , who developed a similar temperature scale two years before his death...

 (68–77 °F
Fahrenheit
Fahrenheit is the temperature scale proposed in 1724 by, and named after, the German physicist Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit . Within this scale, the freezing of water into ice is defined at 32 degrees, while the boiling point of water is defined to be 212 degrees...

) and rarely fall below 5 °C (41 °F). Summer snow is an extreme rarity.

In the spring and summer of 1816, a persistent "dry fog" was observed in the northeastern US. The fog reddened and dimmed the sunlight, such that sunspots were visible to the naked eye. Neither wind nor rainfall dispersed the "fog". It has been characterized as a stratospheric sulfate
Sulfate
In inorganic chemistry, a sulfate is a salt of sulfuric acid.-Chemical properties:...

 aerosol veil
.

In May 1816, frost
Frost
Frost is the solid deposition of water vapor from saturated air. It is formed when solid surfaces are cooled to below the dew point of the adjacent air as well as below the freezing point of water. Frost crystals' size differ depending on time and water vapour available. Frost is also usually...

 killed off most of the crops that had been planted, and on 4 June 1816, frosts were reported in Connecticut
Connecticut
Connecticut is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It is bordered by Rhode Island to the east, Massachusetts to the north, and the state of New York to the west and the south .Connecticut is named for the Connecticut River, the major U.S. river that approximately...

, and by the following day, most of New England
New England
New England is a region in the northeastern corner of the United States consisting of the six states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut...

 was gripped by the cold front. On 6 June 1816, snow fell in Albany, New York
Albany, New York
Albany is the capital city of the U.S. state of New York, the seat of Albany County, and the central city of New York's Capital District. Roughly north of New York City, Albany sits on the west bank of the Hudson River, about south of its confluence with the Mohawk River...

, and Dennysville, Maine
Dennysville, Maine
Dennysville is a town in Washington County, Maine, United States. The population was 319 at the 2000 census.-Geography:According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of , of which, of it is land and of it is water....

. Nearly a foot (30 cm) of snow was observed in Quebec City
Quebec City
Quebec , also Québec, Quebec City or Québec City is the capital of the Canadian province of Quebec and is located within the Capitale-Nationale region. It is the second most populous city in Quebec after Montreal, which is about to the southwest...

 in early June, with consequent additional loss of crops—most summer-growing plants have cell walls which rupture even in a mild frost. The result was regional malnutrition, starvation, epidemic, and increased mortality.

In July and August, lake and river ice were observed as far south as Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

. Rapid, dramatic temperature swings were common, with temperatures sometimes reverting from normal or above-normal summer temperatures as high as 35 °C (95 °F) to near-freezing within hours. Even though farmers south of New England
New England
New England is a region in the northeastern corner of the United States consisting of the six states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut...

 did succeed in bringing some crops to maturity, maize
Maize
Maize known in many English-speaking countries as corn or mielie/mealie, is a grain domesticated by indigenous peoples in Mesoamerica in prehistoric times. The leafy stalk produces ears which contain seeds called kernels. Though technically a grain, maize kernels are used in cooking as a vegetable...

 and other grain
Cereal
Cereals are grasses cultivated for the edible components of their grain , composed of the endosperm, germ, and bran...

 prices rose dramatically. The price of that staple food, oats
OATS
OATS - Open Source Assistive Technology Software - is a source code repository or "forge" for assistive technology software. It was launched in 2006 with the goal to provide a one-stop “shop” for end users, clinicians and open-source developers to promote and develop open source assistive...

, for example, rose from 12¢ a bushel
Bushel
A bushel is an imperial and U.S. customary unit of dry volume, equivalent in each of these systems to 4 pecks or 8 gallons. It is used for volumes of dry commodities , most often in agriculture...

 ($0/m³) the previous year to 92¢ a bushel ($/m³). Those areas suffering local crop failures had to deal with the lack of roads in the early 19th century, preventing any easy importation of bulky food stuffs.

Cool temperatures and heavy rains resulted in failed harvests in the British Isles
British Isles
The British Isles are a group of islands off the northwest coast of continental Europe that include the islands of Great Britain and Ireland and over six thousand smaller isles. There are two sovereign states located on the islands: the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and...

 as well. Families in Wales
Wales
Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain, bordered by England to its east and the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea to its west. It has a population of three million, and a total area of 20,779 km²...

 traveled long distances as refugees, begging for food. Famine was prevalent in north and southwest Ireland
Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

, following the failure of wheat
Wheat
Wheat is a cereal grain, originally from the Levant region of the Near East, but now cultivated worldwide. In 2007 world production of wheat was 607 million tons, making it the third most-produced cereal after maize and rice...

, oats, and potato
Potato
The potato is a starchy, tuberous crop from the perennial Solanum tuberosum of the Solanaceae family . The word potato may refer to the plant itself as well as the edible tuber. In the region of the Andes, there are some other closely related cultivated potato species...

 harvests. The crisis was severe in Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, where food prices rose sharply. Due to the unknown cause of the problems, demonstrations in front of grain markets and bakeries, followed by riot
Riot
A riot is a form of civil disorder characterized often by what is thought of as disorganized groups lashing out in a sudden and intense rash of violence against authority, property or people. While individuals may attempt to lead or control a riot, riots are thought to be typically chaotic and...

s, arson
Arson
Arson is the crime of intentionally or maliciously setting fire to structures or wildland areas. It may be distinguished from other causes such as spontaneous combustion and natural wildfires...

, and looting
Looting
Looting —also referred to as sacking, plundering, despoiling, despoliation, and pillaging—is the indiscriminate taking of goods by force as part of a military or political victory, or during a catastrophe, such as during war, natural disaster, or rioting...

, took place in many European cities. It was the worst famine
Famine
A famine is a widespread scarcity of food, caused by several factors including crop failure, overpopulation, or government policies. This phenomenon is usually accompanied or followed by regional malnutrition, starvation, epidemic, and increased mortality. Every continent in the world has...

 of the 19th century.

In China, the cold weather killed trees, rice crops, and even water buffalo, especially in northern China. Floods destroyed many remaining crops. Mount Tambora’s eruption disrupted China’s monsoon season, resulting in overwhelming floods in the Yangtze Valley in 1816. In India the delayed summer monsoon caused late torrential rains that aggravated the spread of cholera from a region near the River Ganges in Bengal to as far as Moscow.

In New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

, the temperature dropped to -32 °C (-26°F) during the ensuing bitter winter of 1817. This resulted in a freezing of New York's Upper Bay
Upper New York Bay
Upper New York Bay, or Upper Bay, is the traditional heart of the Port of New York and New Jersey, and often called New York Harbor. It is enclosed by the New York City boroughs of Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Staten Island and the Hudson County, New Jersey municipalities of Jersey City and Bayonne.It...

 deep enough for horse-drawn sleighs to be driven across Buttermilk Channel
Buttermilk Channel
In New York City, Buttermilk Channel is a small tidal strait in Upper New York Bay, approximately one mile long and one-fourth of a mile wide , separating Governors Island from Brooklyn....

 from Brooklyn
Brooklyn
Brooklyn is the most populous of New York City's five boroughs, with nearly 2.6 million residents, and the second-largest in area. Since 1896, Brooklyn has had the same boundaries as Kings County, which is now the most populous county in New York State and the second-most densely populated...

 to Governors Island
Governors Island
Governors Island is a island in Upper New York Bay, approximately one-half mile from the southern tip of Manhattan Island and separated from Brooklyn by Buttermilk Channel. It is legally part of the borough of Manhattan in New York City...

.

The effects were widespread and lasted beyond the winter. In eastern Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

, the summers of 1816 and 1817 were so cool that an ice dam formed below a tongue of the Giétro Glacier
Giétro Glacier
The Giétro Glacier or Giétroz Glacier is a 4 km long valley glacier located in south-western Switzerland. The 1818 Giétroz glacier catastrophe, which led to lake outburst flood, is one of the most famous and most disastrous historical cases in the Swiss Alps.-Description:The Giétro Glacier...

 high in the Val de Bagnes. In spite of the efforts of the engineer Ignaz Venetz
Ignaz Venetz
Ignaz Venetz was a Swiss engineer, naturalist, and glaciologist; as one of the first scientists to recognize glaciers as a major force in shaping the earth, he played a leading role in the foundation of glaciology....

 to drain the growing lake, the ice dam collapsed catastrophically in June 1818.

Causes


It is now generally thought that the aberrations occurred because of the 1815 (April 5–15) volcanic Mount Tambora eruption on the island of Sumbawa
Sumbawa
Sumbawa is an Indonesian island, located in the middle of the Lesser Sunda Islands chain, with Lombok to the west, Flores to the east, and Sumba further to the southeast. It is in the province of West Nusa Tenggara....

, Indonesia (then part of the Dutch East Indies
Dutch East Indies
The Dutch East Indies was a Dutch colony that became modern Indonesia following World War II. It was formed from the nationalised colonies of the Dutch East India Company, which came under the administration of the Netherlands government in 1800....

). The eruption had a Volcanic Explosivity Index
Volcanic Explosivity Index
The Volcanic Explosivity Index was devised by Chris Newhall of the U.S. Geological Survey and Stephen Self at the University of Hawaii in 1982 to provide a relative measure of the explosiveness of volcanic eruptions....

 ranking of 7, a super-colossal event that ejected immense amounts of volcanic dust into the upper atmosphere. It was the world's largest eruption since the Hatepe eruption
Hatepe eruption
The Hatepe eruption around the year 180 CE was Lake Taupo's most recent major eruption, and New Zealand's largest eruption during the last 20,000 years. It ejected some of material , of which was ejected in the space of a few minutes...

 over 1,630 years earlier in AD 180. That the 1815 eruption occurred during the middle of the Dalton Minimum
Dalton Minimum
The Dalton Minimum was a period of low solar activity, named after the English meteorologist John Dalton, lasting from about 1790 to 1830. Like the Maunder Minimum and Spörer Minimum, the Dalton Minimum coincided with a period of lower-than-average global temperatures...

 (a period of unusually low solar activity) is also significant.

Other large volcanic eruptions (with VEI
Volcanic Explosivity Index
The Volcanic Explosivity Index was devised by Chris Newhall of the U.S. Geological Survey and Stephen Self at the University of Hawaii in 1982 to provide a relative measure of the explosiveness of volcanic eruptions....

 at least 4) during the same time frame are:
  • 1812, La Soufrière
    Soufrière (volcano)
    La Soufrière [The Sulfurer] or Soufrière Saint Vincent is an active volcano on the island of Saint Vincent in the Windward Islands of the Caribbean.- Geography and structure :...

     on Saint Vincent
    Saint Vincent (island)
    Saint Vincent is a volcanic island in the Caribbean. It is the largest island of the chain called Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. It is located in the Caribbean Sea, between Saint Lucia and Grenada. It is composed of partially submerged volcanic mountains...

     in the Caribbean
  • 1812, Awu
    Mount Awu
    Mount Awu is the largest volcano in the Sangihe chain. Powerful eruptions occurred in 1711, 1812, 1856, 1892 and 1966 with devastating pyroclastic flows and lahars that have resulted in more than 8,000 fatalities altogether. A 4.5 km wide of crater is found at the summit and a deep valley...

     on Sangihe Islands, Indonesia
  • 1813, Suwanosejima
    Suwanosejima
    is a volcanic island with a population of about fifty located in the Tokara Islands, part of the Nansei Islands, Japan. It is 8 km long and is one of the most active volcanoes in Japan. It belongs to the village of Toshima in Kagoshima District, Kagoshima, Japan...

     on Ryukyu Islands, Japan
  • 1814, Mayon
    Mayon Volcano
    Mayon Volcano, also known as Mount Mayon, is an active volcano in the province of Albay, on the island of Luzon in the Philippines. Renowned as the "perfect cone" because of its almost symmetric conical shape, Mayon forms the northern boundary of Legazpi City, the largest city in terms of...

     in the Philippines


These other eruptions had already built up a substantial amount of atmospheric dust. As is common following a massive volcanic eruption, temperatures fell worldwide because less sunlight passed through the atmosphere.

Effects


As a result of the series of volcanic eruptions, crops in the above-mentioned areas had been poor for several years; the final blow came in 1815 with the eruption of Tambora. Europe, still recuperating from the Napoleonic Wars
Napoleonic Wars
The Napoleonic Wars were a series of wars declared against Napoleon's French Empire by opposing coalitions that ran from 1803 to 1815. As a continuation of the wars sparked by the French Revolution of 1789, they revolutionised European armies and played out on an unprecedented scale, mainly due to...

, suffered from food shortages. Food riots broke out in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 and France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, and grain warehouses were looted. The violence was worst in landlocked Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

, where famine
Famine
A famine is a widespread scarcity of food, caused by several factors including crop failure, overpopulation, or government policies. This phenomenon is usually accompanied or followed by regional malnutrition, starvation, epidemic, and increased mortality. Every continent in the world has...

 caused the government to declare a national emergency. Huge storms and abnormal rainfall with floodings of the major rivers of Europe (including the Rhine) are attributed to the event, as was the frost setting in during August 1816. A major typhus
Typhus
Epidemic typhus is a form of typhus so named because the disease often causes epidemics following wars and natural disasters...

 epidemic occurred in Ireland between 1816 and 1819, precipitated by the famine caused by "The Year Without a Summer". It is estimated that 100,000 Irish perished during this period. A BBC documentary using figures compiled in Switzerland estimated that fatality rates in 1816 were twice that of average years, giving an approximate European fatality total of 200,000 deaths.

New England also experienced great consequences from the eruption of Tambora. The corn crop was grown significantly in New England and the eruption caused the crop to fail. It was reported that in the summer of 1816 corn ripened so badly that no more than a quarter of it was usable for food. The crop failures in New England, Canada and parts of Europe also caused the price of wheat, grains, meat, vegetables, butter, milk and flour to rise sharply.

The eruption of Tambora also caused Hungary
Hungary
Hungary , officially the Republic of Hungary , is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. The...

 to experience brown snow. Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 experienced something similar, with red snow falling throughout the year. The cause of this is believed to have been volcanic ash in the atmosphere.

In China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

, unusually low temperatures in summer and fall devastated rice production in Yunnan
Yunnan
Yunnan is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the far southwest of the country spanning approximately and with a population of 45.7 million . The capital of the province is Kunming. The province borders Burma, Laos, and Vietnam.Yunnan is situated in a mountainous area, with...

 province in the southwest, resulting in widespread famine. Fort Shuangcheng, now in Heilongjiang
Heilongjiang
For the river known in Mandarin as Heilong Jiang, see Amur River' is a province of the People's Republic of China located in the northeastern part of the country. "Heilongjiang" literally means Black Dragon River, which is the Chinese name for the Amur. The one-character abbreviation is 黑...

 province, reported fields disrupted by frost and conscripts deserting as a result. Summer snowfall was reported in various locations in Jiangxi
Jiangxi
' is a southern province in the People's Republic of China. Spanning from the banks of the Yangtze River in the north into hillier areas in the south, it shares a border with Anhui to the north, Zhejiang to the northeast, Fujian to the east, Guangdong to the south, Hunan to the west, and Hubei to...

 and Anhui
Anhui
Anhui is a province in the People's Republic of China. Located in eastern China across the basins of the Yangtze River and the Huai River, it borders Jiangsu to the east, Zhejiang to the southeast, Jiangxi to the south, Hubei to the southwest, Henan to the northwest, and Shandong for a tiny...

 provinces, both in the south of the country. In Taiwan, which has a tropical climate, snow was reported in Hsinchu
Hsinchu
Hsinchu City is a city in northern Taiwan. Hsinchu is popularly nicknamed "The Windy City" for its windy climate.Hsinchu City is administered as a special municipality within Taiwan . The city is bordered by Hsinchu County to the north and east, Miaoli County to the south, and the Taiwan Strait...

 and Miaoli
Miaoli
Miaoli may refer to:*Miaoli County , a county located in central Taiwan, Republic of China*Miaoli City , the seat of Miaoli County*Miaoli, Zhengzhou , town in Jinshui District, Zhengzhou, People's Republic of China...

, while frost was reported in Changhua.

Cultural effects


High levels of ash in the atmosphere led to unusually spectacular sunsets during this period, a feature celebrated in the paintings of J. M. W. Turner
J. M. W. Turner
Joseph Mallord William Turner RA was an English Romantic landscape painter, watercolourist and printmaker. Turner was considered a controversial figure in his day, but is now regarded as the artist who elevated landscape painting to an eminence rivalling history painting...

. It has been theorised that it was this that gave rise to the yellow tinge that is predominant in his paintings such as Chichester Canal circa 1828. Similar phenomena were observed after the 1883 eruption of Krakatoa
1883 eruption of Krakatoa
The 1883 eruption of Krakatoa began in May 1883 and culminated with the destruction of Krakatoa on 27 August 1883. Minor seismic activity continued to be reported until February 1884, though reports after October 1883 were later dismissed by Rogier Verbeek's investigation.-Early phase:In the years...

 and on the West Coast of the United States
West Coast of the United States
West Coast or Pacific Coast are terms for the westernmost coastal states of the United States. The term most often refers to the states of California, Oregon, and Washington. Although not part of the contiguous United States, Alaska and Hawaii do border the Pacific Ocean but can't be included in...

 following the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo
Mount Pinatubo
Mount Pinatubo is an active stratovolcano located on the island of Luzon, near the tripoint of the Philippine provinces of Zambales, Tarlac, and Pampanga. It is located in the Tri-Cabusilan Mountain range separating the west coast of Luzon from the central plains, and is west of the dormant and...

 in the Philippines.

The lack of oats to feed horses may have inspired the German inventor Karl Drais
Karl Drais
Karl Drais was a German inventor and invented the Laufmaschine , also later called the velocipede, draisine or "draisienne" , also nicknamed the dandy horse. This incorporated the two-wheeler principle that is basic to the bicycle and motorcycle and was the beginning of mechanized personal...

 to research new ways of horseless transportation, which led to the invention of the draisine
Draisine
A draisine primarily refers to a light auxiliary rail vehicle, driven by service personnel, equipped to transport crew and material necessary for the maintenance of railway infrastructure....

 or velocipede
Velocipede
Velocipede is an umbrella term for any human-powered land vehicle with one or more wheels. The most common type of velocipede today is the bicycle....

. This was the ancestor of the modern bicycle
Bicycle
A bicycle, also known as a bike, pushbike or cycle, is a human-powered, pedal-driven, single-track vehicle, having two wheels attached to a frame, one behind the other. A person who rides a bicycle is called a cyclist, or bicyclist....

 and a step toward mechanized personal transport.

The crop failures of the “Year without a Summer” may have helped shape the settling of the "American Heartland
Heartland (United States)
Heartland is an American term referring to states of the Union that – as in the words of one commentator – "don't touch an ocean," whether the Atlantic or Pacific...

", as many thousands of people (particularly farm families who were wiped out by the event) left
Human migration
Human migration is physical movement by humans from one area to another, sometimes over long distances or in large groups. Historically this movement was nomadic, often causing significant conflict with the indigenous population and their displacement or cultural assimilation. Only a few nomadic...

 New England for what is now western and central New York and the Upper Midwest
Upper Midwest
The Upper Midwest is a region in the northern portion of the U.S. Census Bureau's Midwestern United States. It is largely a sub-region of the midwest. Although there are no uniformly agreed-upon boundaries, the region is most commonly used to refer to the states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and...

 (then the Northwest Territory
Northwest Territory
The Territory Northwest of the River Ohio, more commonly known as the Northwest Territory, was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from July 13, 1787, until March 1, 1803, when the southeastern portion of the territory was admitted to the Union as the state of Ohio...

) in search of a more hospitable climate, richer soil, and better growing conditions.
According to historian L.D. Stillwell, Vermont
Vermont
Vermont is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. The state ranks 43rd in land area, , and 45th in total area. Its population according to the 2010 census, 630,337, is the second smallest in the country, larger only than Wyoming. It is the only New England...

 alone experienced a drop of 10,000 to 15,000 people, erasing seven previous years of population growth. Among those who left Vermont were the family of Joseph Smith
Joseph Smith
Joseph Smith was founder of what later became known as the Latter Day Saint movement or Mormons.Joseph Smith may also refer to:-Latter Day Saints:* Joseph Smith, Sr. , father of Joseph Smith...

, who moved from Sharon, Vermont
Sharon, Vermont
Sharon is a town in Windsor County, Vermont, United States. It had a population of 1,411 at the 2000 census. The town is home to The Sharon Academy.-History:...

, to Palmyra, New York
Palmyra, New York
Palmyra, New York may refer to:*Palmyra , New York*Palmyra , New York...

. This move precipitated a series of events which culminated in the publication of the Book of Mormon
Book of Mormon
The Book of Mormon is a sacred text of the Latter Day Saint movement that adherents believe contains writings of ancient prophets who lived on the American continent from approximately 2600 BC to AD 421. It was first published in March 1830 by Joseph Smith, Jr...

 and the founding of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

In July 1816 "incessant rainfall" during that "wet, ungenial summer" forced Mary Shelley
Mary Shelley
Mary Shelley was a British novelist, short story writer, dramatist, essayist, biographer, and travel writer, best known for her Gothic novel Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus . She also edited and promoted the works of her husband, the Romantic poet and philosopher Percy Bysshe Shelley...

, John William Polidori, and their friends to stay indoors for much of their Swiss holiday. They decided to have a contest to see who could write the scariest story, leading Shelley to write Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus
Frankenstein
Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus is a novel about a failed experiment that produced a monster, written by Mary Shelley, with inserts of poems by Percy Bysshe Shelley. Shelley started writing the story when she was eighteen, and the novel was published when she was twenty-one. The first...

 and Polidori to write The Vampyre
The Vampyre
"The Vampyre" is a short story or novella written in 1819 by John William Polidori which is a progenitor of the romantic vampire genre of fantasy fiction...

. In addition, their host, Lord Byron, was inspired to write a poem, Darkness
Darkness (poem)
Darkness is a poem written by Lord Byron in July 1816. That year was known as the Year Without a Summer - this is because Mount Tambora had erupted in the Dutch East Indies the previous year, casting enough ash in to the atmosphere to block out the sun and cause abnormal weather across much of...

, at the same time.

Justus von Liebig
Justus von Liebig
Justus von Liebig was a German chemist who made major contributions to agricultural and biological chemistry, and worked on the organization of organic chemistry. As a professor, he devised the modern laboratory-oriented teaching method, and for such innovations, he is regarded as one of the...

, a chemist who had experienced the famine as a child in Darmstadt
Darmstadt
Darmstadt is a city in the Bundesland of Hesse in Germany, located in the southern part of the Rhine Main Area.The sandy soils in the Darmstadt area, ill-suited for agriculture in times before industrial fertilisation, prevented any larger settlement from developing, until the city became the seat...

, later studied plant nutrition and introduced mineral fertilizer
Fertilizer
Fertilizer is any organic or inorganic material of natural or synthetic origin that is added to a soil to supply one or more plant nutrients essential to the growth of plants. A recent assessment found that about 40 to 60% of crop yields are attributable to commercial fertilizer use...

s.

In popular culture


Cello rock
Cello rock
Cello rock and cello metal are subgenres of rock music and heavy metal characterized by the use of cellos as primary instruments, alongside or in place of more traditional rock instruments such as electric guitars, electric bass guitar, and drum set.Cellos, often in groups of three or more, are...

 band Rasputina wrote the song "1816, the Year Without a Summer" in homage to this event. It is on their 2007 album Oh Perilous World
Oh Perilous World
Standard Edition bonus tracks# "The Question of Time" - 2:39# "Identity Tokens" - 4:54# "The Humanized Mice" - 2:19# "The Pruning " - 4:17# "Flood Corps" - 1:36# "Incapable of Regret" - 2:02# "Desert Vampire" - 1:36...

.

Comparable events

  • Toba catastrophe
    Toba catastrophe theory
    The Toba supereruption was a supervolcanic eruption that occurred some time between 69,000 and 77,000 years ago at Lake Toba . It is recognized as one of the Earth's largest known eruptions...

     70,000 to 75,000 years ago.
  • The 1628–26 BC climate disturbances, usually attributed to the Minoan eruption of Santorini
    Santorini
    Santorini , officially Thira , is an island located in the southern Aegean Sea, about southeast from Greece's mainland. It is the largest island of a small, circular archipelago which bears the same name and is the remnant of a volcanic caldera...

    .
  • The Hekla 3 eruption
    Hekla 3 eruption
    The Hekla 3 eruption circa 1000 BC is considered the most severe eruption of Hekla during the Holocene. It threw about 7.3 km3 of volcanic rock into the atmosphere, placing its Volcanic Explosivity Index at 5...

     of about 1200 BC, contemporary with the historical bronze age collapse
    Bronze Age collapse
    The Bronze Age collapse is a transition in southwestern Asia and the Eastern Mediterranean from the Late Bronze Age to the Early Iron Age that some historians believe was violent, sudden and culturally disruptive...

    .
  • Climate changes of 535–536
    Climate changes of 535–536
    The extreme weather events of 535–536 were the most severe and protracted short-term episodes of cooling in the Northern Hemisphere in the last 2,000 years. The event is thought to have been caused by an extensive atmospheric dust veil, possibly resulting from a large volcanic eruption in the...

     have been linked to the effects of a volcanic eruption, possibly at Krakatoa
    Krakatoa
    Krakatoa is a volcanic island made of a'a lava in the Sunda Strait between the islands of Java and Sumatra in Indonesia. The name is used for the island group, the main island , and the volcano as a whole. The island exploded in 1883, killing approximately 40,000 people, although some estimates...

    .
  • An eruption of Kuwae
    Kuwae
    Kuwae is a submarine caldera between Epi and Tongoa islands. Kuwae Caldera cuts through the flank of the Tavani Ruru volcano on Epi and the northwest end of Tongoa....

    , a Pacific volcano, has been implicated in events surrounding the Fall of Constantinople
    Fall of Constantinople
    The Fall of Constantinople was the capture of the capital of the Byzantine Empire, which occurred after a siege by the Ottoman Empire, under the command of Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II, against the defending army commanded by Byzantine Emperor Constantine XI...

     in 1453.
  • An eruption of Huaynaputina
    Huaynaputina
    Huaynaputina is a stratovolcano located in a volcanic upland in southern Peru. The volcano does not have an identifiable mountain profile, but instead has the form of a large volcanic crater. It has produced high-potassium andesite and dacite...

    , in Peru
    Peru
    Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

    , caused 1601 to be the coldest year in the Northern Hemisphere for six centuries (see Russian famine of 1601–1603
    Russian famine of 1601–1603
    The Russian famine of 1601–1603 was Russia's worst famine in terms of proportional effect on the population, killing perhaps two million people, a third of Russians, during the Time of Troubles, when the country was unsettled politically and later invaded by the Polish Commonwealth...

    ).
  • An eruption of Laki
    Laki (volcano)
    Laki or Lakagígar is a volcanic fissure situated in the south of Iceland, not far from the canyon of Eldgjá and the small village Kirkjubæjarklaustur, in South-East Iceland....

    , in Iceland
    Iceland
    Iceland , described as the Republic of Iceland, is a Nordic and European island country in the North Atlantic Ocean, on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Iceland also refers to the main island of the country, which contains almost all the population and almost all the land area. The country has a population...

    , caused thousands of fatalities in Europe, 1783–84.
  • The eruption of Mount Pinatubo
    Mount Pinatubo
    Mount Pinatubo is an active stratovolcano located on the island of Luzon, near the tripoint of the Philippine provinces of Zambales, Tarlac, and Pampanga. It is located in the Tri-Cabusilan Mountain range separating the west coast of Luzon from the central plains, and is west of the dormant and...

     in 1991 led to odd weather patterns and temporary cooling in the United States, particularly in the Midwest and parts of the Northeast. An unusually mild winter
    Winter
    Winter is the coldest season of the year in temperate climates, between autumn and spring. At the winter solstice, the days are shortest and the nights are longest, with days lengthening as the season progresses after the solstice.-Meteorology:...

     and a warm, early spring
    Spring (season)
    Spring is one of the four temperate seasons, the transition period between winter and summer. Spring and "springtime" refer to the season, and broadly to ideas of rebirth, renewal and regrowth. The specific definition of the exact timing of "spring" varies according to local climate, cultures and...

     were followed by an unusually cool, wet summer
    Summer
    Summer is the warmest of the four temperate seasons, between spring and autumn. At the summer solstice, the days are longest and the nights are shortest, with day-length decreasing as the season progresses after the solstice...

     and a cold, early autumn
    Autumn
    Autumn is one of the four temperate seasons. Autumn marks the transition from summer into winter usually in September or March when the arrival of night becomes noticeably earlier....

     in 1992.

See also

  • Global cooling
    Global cooling
    Global cooling was a conjecture during the 1970s of imminent cooling of the Earth's surface and atmosphere along with a posited commencement of glaciation...

  • Little Ice Age
    Little Ice Age
    The Little Ice Age was a period of cooling that occurred after the Medieval Warm Period . While not a true ice age, the term was introduced into the scientific literature by François E. Matthes in 1939...

  • Mount Tambora
    Mount Tambora
    Mount Tambora is an active stratovolcano, also known as a composite volcano, on the island of Sumbawa, Indonesia. Sumbawa is flanked both to the north and south by oceanic crust, and Tambora was formed by the active subduction zone beneath it. This raised Mount Tambora as high as , making it...

  • New England's Dark Day
    New England's Dark Day
    New England's Dark Day refers to an event that occurred on May 19, 1780, when an unusual darkening of the day sky was observed over the New England states and parts of Canada. The primary cause of the event is believed to have been a combination of smoke from forest fires, a thick fog, and cloud...

  • Volcanic winter
    Volcanic winter
    A volcanic winter is the reduction in temperature caused by volcanic ash and droplets of sulfuric acid obscuring the sun and raising Earth's albedo after a large particularly explosive type of volcanic eruption...

  • Timetable of major worldwide volcanic eruptions
    Timetable of major worldwide volcanic eruptions
    This article is a list of volcanic eruptions of approximately at least magnitude 6 on the Volcanic Explosivity Index or equivalent sulfur dioxide emission around the Quaternary period. Some cooled the global climate; the extent of this effect depends on the amount of sulfur dioxide emitted...

  • White Christmas in the Southern Hemisphere
  • 1816

Additional reading

  • BBC Timewatch documentary: Year Without Summer, Cicada Films (BBC2, 27 May 2005)
  • Willie Soon and Steven H.Yaskell:Year without a Summer, Vol. 32, # 3 May / June, Mercury
    Mercury (planet)
    Mercury is the innermost and smallest planet in the Solar System, orbiting the Sun once every 87.969 Earth days. The orbit of Mercury has the highest eccentricity of all the Solar System planets, and it has the smallest axial tilt. It completes three rotations about its axis for every two orbits...

    (Astronomical Society of the Pacific) 2003
  • Hans-Erhard Lessing: Automobilitaet: Karl Drais und die unglaublichen Anfaenge, Leipzig 2003
  • Henry & Elizabeth Stommel: Volcano Weather: The Story of 1816, the Year without a Summer, Seven Seas Press, Newport RI 1983 ISBN 0-915160-71-4
  • The Story of the Year of Cold, by Dozier, Lou Zerr Press, 2009

External links