An international team of scientists has carried out a large-scale study. In the course of the work, the experts found out the connection between the climate, natural phenomena and the rule of the Chinese imperial dynasties.

Volcanic eruptions have contributed to the collapse of dynasties in China over the past 2,000 years, according to new research. Ash emissions temporarily cooled the climate, the situation affected agriculture, which worsened the economy and political situation in the region.

Violent eruptions create an ash cloud that blocks some of the sunlight for a year or two. This reduces access to sunlight, causes cooling of the earth, weakens monsoons and decreases rainfall, which reduces crop yields.

In the course of the work, scientists reconstructed 156 explosive volcanic eruptions from 1 AD to 1915. They studied elevated sulfate levels in ice cores from Greenland and Antarctica. Also, experts analyzed historical documents from China about 68 dynasties and studied the wars there between 850 and 1911.

Scientists have linked volcanic “shocks” to the climate and the collapse of dynasties in a situation where political and socio-economic stress is already at a high level. During eruptions, millions of tons of sulfur dioxide enter the upper atmosphere, forming huge clouds of sulfuric acid. They reflect sunlight and lower the average temperature of the Earth’s surface. This leads to problems in agriculture. Of course, volcanic eruptions do not cancel out other factors – poor governance, administrative corruption and demographic pressure. The consequences of the eruptions can be considered “the last straw”, scientists conclude.