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     Effects of Volcano in 1783


Icelandic volcanoes


2010 is not the first year when people in Tickhill have faced the consequences of an eruption of one of Iceland’s volcanoes. Between June and October 1783 a volcano in the south of Iceland, Laki, erupted ten times through a long fissure, spewing an estimated 120 million tons of toxic gases into the atmosphere. At the time only a few scientists, including Benjamin Franklin, connected the eruptions, which killed a quarter of Iceland’s population, with the consequences in North America and Europe. The weather in England in June 1783 was already unusually hot, with severe thunderstorms, when much of the country was covered with a ‘smoky fog’ otherwise called a ‘dry fog’. With the sun masked, the temperature fell and vegetation withered.

Not only did grain prices rise but outdoor workers suffered respiratory complaints and the death rate rose. The volcanic gases in the atmosphere are also credited with causing a particularly severe winter in 1783/4.

More can be read about this in Derek Wilson’s Britain’s rottenest years, Short Books, 2009. (Other rotten years covered in the book include 1069, 1536, 1648 and 1720.)



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