Publication Abstracts

McGraw et al. 2023, submitted

McGraw, Z., K. DallaSanta, L. Polvani, K. Tsigaridis, C. Orbe, and S.E. Bauer, 2023: Supervolcanoes may cause widespread warming, rather than cooling. J. Climate, submitted.

Supervolcanoes are believed to cause drastic global cooling, with the Toba eruption purported to have driven humanity to near-extinction ∼74,000 years ago. However, Toba left little physical evidence of its severity and models diverge greatly on the magnitude of post-eruption cooling. A key underappreciated factor controlling the climate response to an eruption is the size of volcanic sulfate droplets, which is unavailable in ice cores and poorly constrained by models. Here we show that droplet size controls not only the amplitude but even the sign of the super-eruption surface temperature response. In fact, over a physically possible range of droplet sizes, we find that the global mean response can vary from extreme cooling all the way to the unconsidered scenario of widespread warming. We establish that survivable post-Toba temperature responses, including warming, are consistent with available evidence from excavations. By integrating the available evidence on large eruptions with simulation output, we estimate that supervolcanic cooling is unlikely to greatly exceed 1°C no matter how massive the stratospheric injection. Super-eruptions, we deduce, would hence be incapable of altering global temperatures substantially more than the largest Common Era eruptions. These findings may explain why no single super-eruption event has firmly evidenced widespread destruction.

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BibTeX Citation

  author={McGraw, Z. and DallaSanta, K. and Polvani, L. and Tsigaridis, K. and Orbe, C. and Bauer, S. E.},
  title={Supervolcanoes may cause widespread warming, rather than cooling},
  journal={J. Climate},
  note={Manuscript submitted for publication}

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RIS Citation

ID  - mc00300e
AU  - McGraw, Z.
AU  - DallaSanta, K.
AU  - Polvani, L.
AU  - Tsigaridis, K.
AU  - Orbe, C.
AU  - Bauer, S. E.
PY  - 2023
TI  - Supervolcanoes may cause widespread warming, rather than cooling
JA  - J. Climate
ER  -

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