High-latitude eruptions cast shadow over the African monsoon and the flow of the Nile

Luke Oman, Alan Robock, Georgiy L. Stenchikov, Thorvaldur Thordarson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

149 Scopus citations


Nile River records indicate very low flow following the 1783-1784 Laki volcanic eruption, as well as after other high-latitude volcanic eruptions. As shown by climate model simulations of the Laki eruption, significant cooling (-1° to -3°C) of the Northern Hemisphere land masses during the boreal summer of 1783 resulted in a strong dynamical effect of weakening the African and Indian monsoon circulations, with precipitation anomalies of -1 to -3 mm/day over the Sahel of Africa, thus producing the low Nile flow. Future high-latitude eruptions would significantly impact the food and water supplies in these areas. Using observations of the flow of the Nile River, this new understanding is used to support a date of 939 for the beginning of the eruption of the Eldgjá volcano in Iceland, the largest high-latitude eruption of the past 1500 years.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberL18711
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number18
StatePublished - Sep 28 2006
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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