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Reconciling the climate and ozone response to the 1257 CE Mount Samalas eruption.

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The 1257 CE eruption of Mount Samalas (Indonesia) is the source of the largest stratospheric injection of volcanic gases in the Common Era. Sulfur dioxide emissions produced sulfate aerosols that cooled Earth's climate with a range of impacts on society. The coemission of halogenated species has also been speculated to have led to wide-scale ozone depletion. Here we present simulations from HadGEM3-ES, a fully coupled Earth system model, with interactive atmospheric chemistry and a microphysical treatment of sulfate aerosol, used to assess the chemical and climate impacts from the injection of sulfur and halogen species into the stratosphere as a result of the Mt. Samalas eruption. While our model simulations support a surface air temperature response to the eruption of the order of -1°C, performing well against multiple reconstructions of surface temperature from tree-ring records, we find little evidence to support significant injections of halogens into the stratosphere. Including modest fractions of the halogen emissions reported from Mt. Samalas leads to significant impacts on the composition of the atmosphere and on surface temperature. As little as 20% of the halogen inventory from Mt. Samalas reaching the stratosphere would result in catastrophic ozone depletion, extending the surface cooling caused by the eruption. However, based on available proxy records of surface temperature changes, our model results support only very minor fractions (1%) of the halogen inventory reaching the stratosphere and suggest that further constraints are needed to fully resolve the issue.



Samalas, climate, modeling volcanic impacts, ozone

Journal Title

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A

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Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences


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National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NERC) (via University of Leeds) (R8/H12/83/003)
Natural Environment Research Council (NE/N006038/1)
Natural Environment Research Council (NE/S000887/1)
DTP-1502139 NE/S000887/1 NE/N006038/1 ACSIS UKCA