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Impact of explosive volcanic eruptions on the main climate variability modes
Swingedouw, Didier; Mignot, Juliette; Ortega, Pablo; Khodri, Myriam; Menegoz, Martin; Cassou, Christophe; Hanzquiez, Vincent
Barcelona Supercomputing Center
Volcanic eruptions eject largeamounts of materials into the atmosphere, which can have an impact on climate. In particular, the sulphur dioxide gas released in the stratosphere leads to aerosol formation that reflects part of the incoming solar radiation, thereby affecting the climate energy balance. In this review paper, we analyse the regional climate imprints of large tropical volcanic explosive eruptions. For this purpose, we focus on the impact on three major climatic modes, located in the Atlantic (the North Atlantic Oscillation: NAO and the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation: AMO) and Pacific (the El Niño Southern Oscillation, ENSO) sectors. We present an overview of the chain of events that contributes to modifying the temporal variability of these modes. Our literature review is complemented by new analyses based on observations of the instrumental era as well as on available proxy records and climate model simulations that cover the last millennium. We show that the impact of volcanic eruptions of the same magnitude or weaker than 1991 Mt. Pinatubo eruption on the NAO and ENSO is hard to detect, due to the noise from natural climate variability. There is however a clear impact of the direct radiative forcing resulting from tropical eruptions on the AMO index both in reconstructions and climate model simulations of the last millennium, while the impact on the ocean circulation remains model-dependent. To increase the signal to noise ratio and better evaluate the climate response to volcanic eruptions, improved reconstructions of these climatic modes and of the radiative effect of volcanic eruptions are required on a longer time frame than the instrumental era. Finally, we evaluate climate models' capabilities to reproduce the observed and anticipated impacts and mechanisms associated with volcanic forcing, and assess their potential for seasonal to decadal prediction. We find a very large spread in the simulated responses across the different climate models. Dedicated experimental designs and analyses are therefore needed to decipher the cause for this large uncertainty.
This research was partly funded by the ANR MORDICUS project (ANR-13-SENV-0002-02). It is also funded by the SPECS project funded by the European Commission's Seventh Framework Research Programme under the grant agreement 308378 and by the EMBRACE project with research number 282672. To analyse the CMIP5 data, this study benefited from the IPSL Prodiguer-Ciclad facility, which is supported by CNRS, UPMC, Labex L-IPSL, which is funded by the ANR (grant # ANR-10-LABX-0018) and by the European FP7 IS-ENES2 project (grant # 312979). The research leading to these results has received funding from the Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad (MINECO) as part of the VOLCADEC project CGL2015-70177-R. We also thank Patrick Brockmann for help with the figure design and Eric Guilyardi for useful insights on the section dealing with ENSO. Finally, we acknowledge the comments from two reviewers that helped to clarify our arguments and complete the paper with some useful references.
Peer Reviewed
Àrees temàtiques de la UPC::Desenvolupament humà i sostenible::Medi ambient
Volcanic eruptions
Radiative forcing
Volcanic eruptions
Climate predictability
Climate models
Erupcions volcàniques
Detectors de radiació
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International License

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