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Egyptian famine linked to Iceland volcano

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J., Nov. 21 (UPI) -- U.S. scientists say they've found a link between an 18th-century volcanic eruption that killed 9,000 Icelanders and a severe famine in Egypt. The investigators used a National Aeronautics and Space Administration computer model to track atmospheric changes that followed the 1783 eruption of Laki in southern Iceland. The researchers said the study is the first to conclusively establish a link between high-latitude eruptions and the water supply in North Africa. The study presents "strong evidence" that high-latitude eruptions have altered northern hemisphere atmospheric circulation in the summer following, with impacts extending deep into the tropics.

Laki Eruption of 1783
The Laki eruption lasted eight months during which time about 14 cubic km of basaltic lava and some tephra were erupted. Haze from the eruption was reported from Iceland to Syria. In Iceland, the haze lead to the loss of most of the island's livestock (by eating fluorine contaminated grass), crop failure (by acid rain), and the death of one-quarter of the human residents (by famine). Ben Franklin noted the atmospheric effects of the eruption (Wood, 1992). Photo of main fissure at Laki by Thor Thordarson.

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