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VICS 4th workshop: Volcanic Impacts on Climate and Society: The Common Era and beyond

Cambridge, United Kingdom
Workshop report
Contact person
Celine Vidal
E-Mail address
Working groups
Meeting Category

PAGES' Volcanic Impacts on Climate and Society (VICS) working group will hold its fourth workshop, "Volcanic Impacts on Climate and Society: The Common Era and beyond", from 13-16 April 2019 in Cambridge, UK.


The meeting will take place in at the main building of the Department of Geography of the University of Cambridge, 20 Downing Place, Cambridge CB2 3EN. The meeting will start there on Sunday 14th at 08:30. On Sunday, participants shall access the site through the main gate on Downing Street. The following days, the gate at the dead end of Downing Place will be open.


This is an open workshop for an estimated 75 participants. This fourth workshop will also be used to launch the second phase of VICS (beginning in October 2018), which aims to extend the range of interests deeper into the past, as well as into the future.


This workshop will be critical for launching the goals of phase two of VICS, which come within the scope of the Climate and Humans themes of the PAGES science structure. Volcanism is a dominant driver of climate variability in the Earth’s past on interannual to centennial timescales, and volcanic eruptions provide invaluable data for the synchronization and validation of climate proxies, and constitute test cases for climate models, helping to assure that their response to external forcing is realistic.

VICS aims to:

1. coordinate improved reconstructions of volcanic radiative forcing,
2. enhance our understanding of volcanically-induced climate variability by engaging a wide range of paleoclimate specialists, and
3. deepen our understanding of societal impacts of and human responses to volcanic eruptions.

The interdisciplinary purpose of VICS relies on the expertise of scientists and scholars from a variety of backgrounds, including those in the fields of volcanology, atmospheric chemistry, ice core science, high-resolution paleoclimate reconstructions, climate modeling, archaeology and anthropology, and history. The workshop will therefore also invite contributions from a number of ongoing international projects with relevant areas of interest, including especially GVP, INTAV (International Focus Group on Tephrochronology), the Climate History Network, VolMIP, PMIP and the PAGES2k working groups.


The workshop will focus on the following objectives:

1. Summarising the current state of the reconstructions of significant eruptions (and episodes of intense volcanic activity) and associated climate forcing, with an emphasis on events before the Common Era. Assessing the extent of (dis)agreement in observed climate responses to volcanic forcing when comparing paleoclimate data vs. model simulations.
2. Compiling the planned collaborative and open source 'best practice' review article concerning the timing and magnitude of volcanic eruptions, climate variability and societal transformation, with discussion of causal inference.
3. Continued development of strategies to engage stakeholders and the general public concerning volcanic hazards and disasters.

A lecture will be given during the meeting that will be open to the public.

During phase one of VICS, we developed our online community-editable Wiki, a platform for linking and reconciling ice-core, geological and historical records of volcanic eruptions and their climatic and societal impacts. This platform will be maintained and enhanced during phase two, and we will also supplement the GVP-ice core link database.


Saturday 13 April
18:30 Ice Breaker at the Cambridge University Centre Wine Bar

Sunday 14 April
08:30 Registration (Department of Geography, main building)
09:00 Welcome introduction
09.30-16:30 Session 1: Eruptions of the last millennium CE
16:30-18:30 Poster session
19:00 Conference dinner at Queens College

Monday 15 April
09:00-10:30 Session 2: Eruptions of the first millennium CE
11:00-12:30 Session 3: Aerosols and climate forcing
12:30-14:00 Demystifying Nature - ECR Round Table discussion with Michael White, Editor at Nature (seminar room)
14:00-16:00 Update on case studies
16:30-18:30 Keynote talk and Public Lecture
20:00 Film Premiere: Chasing Traces from the Past

Tuesday 16 April
09:00-12:00 Session 4: Eruptions of the Early Holocene and Pleistocene
12:00-13:00 General discussion and closure
13:00 Lunch (the meeting ends after lunch)

Outreach events on 15 April

Felix Riede's public lecture entitled 'Moments of crisis – volcanic eruptions, environmental impacts and societal change in the northern European past' will be held at 17:30 in the Large Lecture Theatre, Department of Geography.

The English Premiere of 'Chasing Traces from the Past' (featuring members of the Geography Department) will be held at 20:00 at Fitzwilliam College, followed by a Q&A session. The event is free but booking is required. Information and booking details are here. (NB: registered participants do not need to book.)

Key speakers/participants

VICS group leaders: Celine Vidal (local organizer), Matthew Toohey, Francis Ludlow, Kevin Anchukaitis, Michael Sigl and Allegra LeGrande.

Local (Department of Geography, Cambridge UK) advisory committee

Clive Oppenheimer, Christine Lane, Anja Schmidt and Ulf Büntgen.

Previous meetings

See the list of previous VICS meetings, and post-meeting material, here.

Financial support

Some funding has been provided by PAGES to support the attendance of early-career researchers and scientists from less-favored countries.

The deadline is 20 October 2018:


The deadline for registration and abstract submission is 1 November 2018:

The deadline for registration payment is 15 January 2019.

Further information

Questions can be sent to meeting organizer Celine Vidal: