Volcanic Eruptions and their Impacts on Climate, Environment, and Viking Society in 500–1250 CE (VIKINGS)

Credit: Sarychev Peak/Wikipedia, Oseberg ship/Norway: Kirstin Krüger.

Credit: Sarychev Peak/Wikipedia, Oseberg ship/Norway: Kirstin Krüger.

About the project

This multi-disciplinary project aims to understand the role of volcanic eruptions and climate change in shaping the early history of Europe. The period 500-1250 CE is characterized by natural disasters, societal unrest, Viking expansion, emerging kingship - and large volcanic eruptions evidenced by geochemical markers in natural archives. At present, we know little about the climate variations in Europe and especially in Scandinavia during this period.

The VIKINGS project seeks to reveal the climate of the early historic period, and resolve how volcanic eruptions and their environmental impacts facilitated societal changes during the Viking era.


To advance the knowledge and understanding of major volcanic eruptions effects on climate, environment, and society in Scandinavia and Europe at the dawn of the Middle Ages.


Large volcanic eruptions are the major drivers of natural climate variability in the pre-industrial era of the last millennium. They are thought to have triggered the onset of the Little Ice Age (end of 13th century) sustained by sea‐ice/ocean feedbacks. Only recently, new high resolution ice core records led to a rewriting of the volcanic eruption history of the past 2500 years. In particular, previous ice-core volcanic sulphur records before ~1200 CE have been deemed as incorrectly dated and insufficiently synchronized, leading to an overall unreliable history of volcanic forcing. Thus, less is known about the climate effects of large volcanic eruptions during the first millennium. In this project we will analyse new and available model data, proxy and archaeological records in Scandinavia which will enable us to uniquely interpret the climate, environment, and society response of major volcanic eruptions during the Early and High Middle Ages (500-1250 CE) within the Vikings period.


The VIKINGS* project is financed as an FRIPRO Toppforsk project by the Research Council of Norway and the University of Oslo (project number 275191).

Project period is from 1. July 2018 until 30. June 2023.

*Full name of this project: "Volcanic Eruptions and their Impacts on Climate, Environment, and Viking Society in 500–1250 CE (VIKINGS)"


Published Jan. 25, 2019 2:43 PM - Last modified Nov. 6, 2020 1:21 PM