VICES (Volcanic Impacts on Climate, Environment and Society)

SERI funded ERC Starting Grant project Climatic impact and human consequences of past volcanic eruptions (VolCOPE).

SNSF funded Ambizione project Distal socio-economic impacts of big volcanic eruptions in 1500–1900 CE Switzerland and Sweden (DEBTS).

This joint project investigates the complexity of eruption-climate-society causalities in the historical past, from the late medieval times to the modern era. The project is hosted at the Institute of History and the Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of Bern.

Large volcanic eruptions can have a substantial impact on climate and these climatic disturbances can, in turn, have severe human consequences far away from the eruption location. In order to understand these far-flung eruption-climate-society causalities better, we have to look further back in time, as our recent past has witnessed only a limited number of large eruptions.

In this interdisciplinary project, we investigate the climatic and societal effects of past volcanic eruptions, from the late medieval times to the modern era. We are collaborating closely with other research groups at the Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research, particularly with the Past volcanism and climate impact and the Climatology groups.

We have a special interest on the indirect climatic and societal effects, like dynamical winter climate responses, administrative reactions and grassroots coping outcomes. Moreover, we are investigating to what degree the detected societal effects can be attributed to volcanic-induced climatic disturbances, and to what degree existing socio-environmental conditions and emerging human actions explain these events. To do this, we are conducting systematic longitudinal case studies, covering multiple volcanic eruptions, and compare the climatic and societal impacts associated with different eruptions over time. The novel material for our project comes from written historical sources, whereas our collaborators provide the data captured in the ‘archives of nature’, such as in tree rings, ice layers and sediment varves.

The project will run from 2022 to 2027.

Wine and Volcanoes: Distal socio-economic impacts of big volcanic eruptions, especially on the early modern Swiss viticulture.

The PhD project aims to examine the socio-economic impacts of eruption-related climatic anomalies among Early Modern Swiss agrarian societies, with a special emphasis on vulnerability and resilience dictating the degree of human consequences. The main objective is to investigate, firstly the viticultural responses to volcanic-induced climatic disturbances, and secondly the socio-economic impacts of the thus resulting impacts of wine production fluctuations. The project employs a longitudinal and comparative research approach and uses a variety of annual time-series related to regional climatic, agricultural, and economic fluctuations. Furthermore, novel material on viticulture will be gathered from serial archival sources. These sources are especially promising for examining volcanism-climate-society causalities. Vine cultivation is highly sensitive to climate variability and wine production constituted on the one hand a considerable share of the economic income in certain regions of Early Modern Switzerland and on the other hand was a relevant factor towards the meeting of basic needs.

Hence, it is crucial to carefully investigate the vulnerability of viticulture to climate change, the long-term development of climate-society interactions and coping strategies for the impacts of volcanic eruptions and furthermore to provide varied climate proxy data from viticultural material for further climatological studies.

The research examines the links between volcanic eruptions, global and regional climate impacts and resulting changes for society. The particular focus is the impacts of the 1831 and 1835 eruptions in India, where they may be linked to severe droughts, floods and famines in the 1830s.

ClimeApp – created by Richard Warren and Niklaus Bartlome, co-developed by Noémie Wellinger – is a web-based data processing tool for the ModE-RA Global Climate Reanalysis, covering the period from 1421 to 2008 C.E. The app integrates this dataset, that offers a global paleo-reanalysis of temperature, precipitation, and pressure with monthly resolution, allowing visualization as maps or time series. Additionally, ClimeApp provides access to the ModE-Sim climate simulations and the ModE-RAclim sensitivity experiment, enabling researchers to distinguish external forcing from internal climate variability. With ClimeApp users can compare the three ModE-datasets with historical data (e.g. harvest yields, mortality) or climate-related data (e.g. TSI, CO2, SAOD) using composite, correlation, and regression functions. The app is designed for easy use by both climatologists and historians, aiming to integrate climate data into historical research.

Richard Warren (2022) From Fire to Famine? The climate and human impacts of the 1831 and 1835 volcanic eruptions in India. MSc Thesis, University of Bern.

Heli Huhtamaa, Markus Stoffel, Christophe Corona (2022), Recession or resilience? Long-range socioeconomic consequences of the 17th century volcanic eruptions in northern Fennoscandia. Climate of the Past, 18(9), 2077–2092.

Markus Stoffel, Christophe Corona, Francis Ludlow, Michael Sigl, Heli Huhtamaa, Emmanuel Garnier, Samuli Helama, Sébastien Guillet, Arlene Crampsie, Katrin Kleemann, Chantal Camenisch, Joseph McConnell, Chaochao Gao (2022). Climatic, weather, and socio-economic conditions corresponding to the mid-17th-century eruption cluster. Climate of the Past, 18(5), 1083–1108.

Sam White, Eduardo Moreno-Chamarro, Davide Zanchettin, Heli Huhtamaa, Dagomar Degroot, Markus Stoffel, Christophe Corona (2022). The 1600 CE Huaynaputina eruption as a possible trigger for persistent cooling in the North Atlantic region. Climate of the Past, 18(4), 739–757.

Project Leader


PhD Students

Junior Assistant

Krakatoa 1883 eruption
Krakatoa 1883 eruption. Source: The eruption of Krakatoa, and subsequent phenomena: report of the Krakatoa Committee of the Royal Society, ed. by G. J. Symons, London: 1888. Accessed via