Global tree growth resilience to cold extremes following the Tambora volcanic eruption

Shan Gao, J. Julio Camarero, Flurin Babst, Eryuan Liang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although the global climate is warming, external forcing driven by explosive volcanic eruptions may still cause abrupt cooling. The 1809 and 1815 Tambora eruptions caused lasting cold extremes worldwide, providing a unique lens that allows us to investigate the magnitude of global forest resilience to and recovery from volcanic cooling. Here, we show that growth resilience inferred from tree-ring data was severely impacted by cooling in high latitudes and elevations: the average tree growth decreased substantially (up to 31.8%), especially in larch forests, and regional-scale probabilities of severe growth reduction (below −2σ) increased up to 1390%. The influence of the eruptions extended longer (beyond the year 1824) in mid- than in high-latitudes, presumably due to the combined impacts of cold and drought stress. As Tambora-size eruptions statistically occur every 200–400 years, assessing their influences on ecosystems can help humankind mitigate adverse impacts on natural resources through improved management, especially in high latitude and elevation regions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6616
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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