The reconstructed climate forcing potential of 852/3 CE Churchill eruption is moderate compared with the eruption magnitude, but tree-ring-inferred temperatures report a significant atmospheric cooling of 0.8 °C in summer 853 CE. Modelled climate scenarios also show a cooling in 853 CE, although the average magnitude of cooling is smaller (0.3 °C). The simulated spatial patterns of cooling are generally similar to those generated using the tree-ring-inferred temperature reconstructions. Tree-ring inferred cooling begins prior to the date of the eruption suggesting that natural internal climate variability may have increased the climate system’s susceptibility to further cooling. The magnitude of the reconstructed cooling could also suggest that the climate forcing potential of this eruption may be underestimated, thereby highlighting the need for greater insight into, and consideration of, the role of halogens and volcanic ash when estimating eruption climate forcing potential.
Precise comparisons of palaeoenvironmental records from peatlands across North America and Europe, facilitated by the presence of the WRAe isochron, reveal no consistent MCA signal. These findings contribute to the growing body of evidence that characterizes the MCA hydroclimate as time-transgressive and heterogeneous, rather than a well-defined climatic period. The presence of the WRAe isochron also demonstrates that no long-term (multidecadal) climatic or societal impacts from the 852/3 CE Churchill eruption were identified beyond areas proximal to the eruption. Historical evidence in Europe for subsistence crises demonstrate a degree of temporal correspondence on interannual timescales, but similar events were reported outside of the eruption period and were common in the 9th century. The 852/3 CE Churchill eruption exemplifies the difficulties of identifying and confirming volcanic impacts for a single eruption, even when it is precisely dated.