Palaeoclimate records have demonstrated links between high-latitude climate changes and tropical as well as high-latitude volcanic activity(1-5). However, little is known about the impact of high-or low-latitude volcanic eruptions on tropical climate, particularly for the period preceding the instrumental record(6-9). Here we use annually resolved temperature-related records from corals, tree rings and ice cores to investigate the relationship between volcanism and low-latitude climate. Over the past 450 years, we find an association between low-latitude volcanic events and lower sea surface temperatures in the tropical oceans. The longest sustained cold period in recent centuries occurred in the early nineteenth century, following the eruption of Tambora and a second, unidentified but presumably tropical(1), volcano. We therefore conclude that the tropical ocean-atmosphere system has been sensitive to changes in radiative forcing caused by tropical volcanism over the past several centuries.
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