Publication Abstracts

DallaSanta and Polvani 2022

DallaSanta, K., and L.M. Polvani, 2022: Volcanic stratospheric injections up to 160 Tg(S) yield a Eurasian winter warming indistinguishable from internal variability. Atmos. Chem. Phys., 22, no. 13, 8843-8862, doi:10.5194/acp-22-8843-2022.

Early observational and modeling work suggested that low-latitude volcanic eruptions, comparable to the one of Pinatubo in 1991 or Krakatau in 1883, cause substantial surface warming over the northern continents at mid-latitudes in winter. The proposed mechanism consists of the formation of an anomalously strong Equator-to-pole temperature gradient in the stratosphere due to the presence of volcanic aerosols in the tropics, which are accompanied by an acceleration of the stratospheric polar vortex, which then shifts the Northern Annular Mode into a positive phase, resulting in warming surface temperatures over Eurasia.

However, a large body of research in the past decade has shown that, for eruptions such as Pinatubo or Krakatau, no such warming is seen in simulations with more recent climate models which, in general, have much finer vertical and horizontal resolution than the early ones, and which have separated the forced response from the internal variability by using large ensembles of integrations. Since the proposed physical mechanism is sound, it is then possible that eruptions comparable to those of Pinatubo or Krakatau are simply too weak, but even larger ones might indeed be capable of causing Eurasian surface warming in winter.

In this study, we explore this possibility using a state-of-the-art, stratosphere-resolving climate model, forced with prescribed aerosols from the Easy Volcanic Aerosol protocol. We consider eruptions with stratospheric sulfur injections of 5, 10, 20, 40, 80, and 160 Tg(S). With 20-member ensembles, we find that with injections of 20 Tg(S) or more — roughly twice the amplitude of the Pinatubo and Krakatau eruptions — our model simulates a winter surface warming over Eurasia, which is statistically significant with a t test given our 20-member ensembles. However, the forced volcanic signal on Eurasian winter surface temperatures is very small, barely exceeding the 1σ range of internal variability for the 160 Tg(S) injection case, and much smaller for smaller eruptions. Most importantly, the number of eruptions needed to establish statistical significance is considerably larger than the number of eruptions known to have occurred in the past 2000 years.

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BibTeX Citation

@article{da04300i,
  author={DallaSanta, K. and Polvani, L. M.},
  title={Volcanic stratospheric injections up to 160 Tg(S) yield a Eurasian winter warming indistinguishable from internal variability},
  year={2022},
  journal={Atmos. Chem. Phys.},
  volume={22},
  number={13},
  pages={8843--8862},
  doi={10.5194/acp-22-8843-2022},
}

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RIS Citation

TY  - JOUR
ID  - da04300i
AU  - DallaSanta, K.
AU  - Polvani, L. M.
PY  - 2022
TI  - Volcanic stratospheric injections up to 160 Tg(S) yield a Eurasian winter warming indistinguishable from internal variability
JA  - Atmos. Chem. Phys.
VL  - 22
IS  - 13
SP  - 8843
EP  - 8862
DO  - 10.5194/acp-22-8843-2022
ER  -

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