Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Year Without A Summer

More Snow, damn if I don't hate it. A Constant deal of putting boots on, pulling boots off and snow melting on your floor. Spent a few minutes shoveling sidewalks this morning - it does get the heart and the breathing racing along. This snow appears to be just a winter event what I would like to briefly write about is the year 1815 and the effect of a volcanic eruption on the world's climate.

The first explosions were heard on this Island in the evening of 5 April, they were noticed in every quarter, and continued at intervals until the following day. The noise was, in the first instance, almost universally attributed to distant cannon; so much so, that a detachment of troops were marched from Djocjocarta, in the expectation that a neighbouring post was attacked, and along the coast boats were in two instances dispatched in quest of a supposed ship in distress.

—Sir Stamford Raffles' memoir

On 5 April 1815, an eruption occurred, on Sumbawa Island, in the Indonesian archipelago. It was Mount Tambora. The eruption was measured as a scale of seven on the Volcanic Explosivity Index and the ash and dust that arose from the eruption blacken the Sky's of the known world at that time. The volcanic dust hung in the air and drifted around the world's atmosphere. The coarser ash particles fell 1 to 2 weeks after the eruptions, but the finer ash particles stayed in the atmosphere from a few months up to a few years at an altitude of 33,000–98,000 ft.

It took almost a year for the sulphur-rich gases to drift over to America and Europe. It created a giant sun filter in the northern hemisphere that caused the spring and summer of 1816 to be extremely cold across Europe and North America. Snowfalls and frost occurred in June, July and August and all but the hardiest grains were destroyed. The snows were tinted brown, red and blue from the ash. Destruction of the corn crop caused farmers to slaughter their livestock. Sea ice formed in the Atlantic shipping lanes and glaciers advanced down mountain slopes to exceptionally low levels. Farmers repeatedly tried to get a crop in the ground, but each time a killer frost withered the roots. Corn and grain prices shot up to $5 and $10 per bushel and oats that had been 12 cents a bushel rose to 92 cents. Delmarva farmers complained about the price of corn for their hogs. This was on the heels of the end of the War Of 1812 and the United States and Delmarva was trying to recover from that.

From a religious view, the cold and related starvation, created new sects and attendance in church was at an all time high. The artist were able to capture spectacular sunsets caused by the volcanic ash in the air.

At present, today - matter of fact, once again an Indonesian volcano (Mount Bromo) is spewing towering clouds of ash, forcing several international airlines to cancel flights to the the island of island of Bali.

I had written a short time ago about ratification in Maryland contributing to the problems with the ratification of the Treaty of Paris was the severe winter of 1783-1784 (now known to be a consequence of the volcanic eruption of Laki in Iceland) only delegates from seven of the thirteen states were present in Congress. According to the Articles of Confederation, nine states were required to enter into a treaty. One faction believed that seven states could ratify the treaty; arguing that they were merely ratifying and not entering into a treaty. Furthermore, it was unlikely that the required delegates could reach Annapolis before the ratification deadline. Well any way it worked out Okay and the treaty was approved.

So thru out our local history we have been influenced by events far away.

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