Clues About Climate Change in Volcanos and Mackerel Consumption

What can volcanic eruption from 200 years ago teach us today about effects of climate change?


Scientists always find ways to get clues about the current state of our world even from strangest places – and times. Recently a climate disaster that happened 200 years ago, along with a volcanic eruption was tied to the data on mackerel consumption in order to help scientists infer conclusions about climate change.

When Indonesian volcano Mount Tambora erupted in 1815, no one expected it would have consequences in New England. As the volcano erupted, it caused a cooling of temperatures, which in turn influenced fish patterns and their consumption all the way in New England. These dynamics could shed light on the future of food supply in a world of a changed climate.

If we know how climate change will affect food supply and food security, we can also have some insights on how to ensure that the world’s population avoids disruption as consumption patterns start changing due to the fact that food supply is changing. It’s about learning on how to deal with the unanticipated and see how humanity can make best of it long term.

The findings of researchers on this subject were published in the Science Advances journal. The scientists have looked at the Gulf of Maine and consequences the climate shift that was caused by Mount Tambura eruption caused in terms of the food supply.

Some may ask how could a volcano eruption cause such climate shifts. The 1815 eruption was one of the largest recorded in history. It brought upon a period of cooler temperatures across the globe. This had far reaching effects on the weather, humans and animals, and consequentially, the food sources for them. The year following the disruption was called as “The year without summer”.

Since New Englanders used fish for almost everything they did, even fertilizer, such change could have been disastrous for them, however, the mackerel, which had better survival rates acted as a significant resource for their nourishment and jobs. Crops were destroyed due to low temperatures and lack of sun, so the fishing became an important way of getting food. The adaptation required urgency since the event happened in a very short time. The climate change also caused migration.

Scientists believe that observing these patterns in behavior after extreme events can help us create better ways of planning for an uncertain future. These adaptive responses are crucial. 800 million around the world depend on fisheries for jobs, while more than billion of the poorest need fish as their primary source of protein. These extreme events could have dire consequences.