American researchers have discovered that, once in a while, Irish weather takes a turn for the worse as a result of volcanic eruptions taking place as far away as South America.
An international group of scientific researchers have examined Ireland’s medieval chroniclers who compiled the Irish Annals and have found their accounts of climatic events are amazingly accurate. By assessing over 40,000 written entries in the Annals and comparing them with measurements taken from ice cores, the researchers linked the climatic aftermath of volcanic eruptions to extreme cold weather events in Ireland over a 1,200-year period from AD431 to 1649.
The study, published today by the US-based Institute of Physics, shows over this timescale up to 48 explosive volcanic eruptions occurred in Greenland, 38 of which led to extreme cold weather in Ireland.
“Of these 48 events, 38 were associated, closely in time, with 37 extreme cold events,” said the lead author of the study, Dr Francis Ludlow of Harvard University. “These were identified by systematically examining written entries in the Irish Annals and picking out directly observed meteorological phenomena and conditions, such as heavy snowfall and frost, prolonged ice covering lakes and rivers, and contemporary descriptions of abnormally cold weather.”
Another example is the 1600 eruption in Peru of Huaynaputina, which the researchers found to be associated with extreme cold winter weather in Ireland in the following years.
Dr Ludlow said: “It’s clear that the scribes of the Irish Annals were diligent reporters of severe cold weather, most probably because of the negative impacts this had on society and the biosphere.
“Our major result is that explosive volcanic eruptions are strongly, and persistently, implicated in the occurrence of cold weather events over this long timescale in Ireland. In their severity, these events are quite rare for the country’s mild maritime climate.”
In the meantime, Met Éireann forecast that the good weather is set to hold for the weekend at least — barring the odd volcano, of course.