Ash from Changbaishan Millennium eruption recorded in Greenland ice: Implications for determining the eruption's timing and impact



Major volcanic eruptions can impact on global climate by injecting large quantities of aerosols and ash into the atmosphere that alter the radiative balance and chemical equilibrium of the stratosphere. The Millennium eruption of Tianchi (Paektu), China/North Korea, was one of the largest Late Holocene eruptions. Uncertainty about the precise timing of the eruption has hindered the recognition of its climate impact in palaeoclimate and historical records. Here we report the compelling identification of the eruption's volcanic signal in Greenland ice cores through the association of geochemically characterized volcanic glass, represented in by bimodal populations that compare with proximal material from the source eruption. The eruption most probably occurred in the A.D. 940s, 7 years after the Eldgjá eruption on Iceland. We examine the eruption's potential for climate forcing using the sulfate records from the ice cores and conclude that it was unlikely to have had a global or extraregional impact.