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Climate change modulates the stratospheric volcanic sulfate aerosol lifecycle and radiative forcing from tropical eruptions.

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Aubry, Thomas J 
Staunton-Sykes, John  ORCID logo
Abraham, Nathan Luke  ORCID logo


Explosive volcanic eruptions affect climate, but how climate change affects the stratospheric volcanic sulfate aerosol lifecycle and radiative forcing remains unexplored. We combine an eruptive column model with an aerosol-climate model to show that the stratospheric aerosol optical depth perturbation from frequent moderate-magnitude tropical eruptions (e.g. Nabro 2011) will be reduced by 75% in a high-end warming scenario compared to today, a consequence of future tropopause height rise and unchanged eruptive column height. In contrast, global-mean radiative forcing, stratospheric warming and surface cooling from infrequent large-magnitude tropical eruptions (e.g. Mt. Pinatubo 1991) will be exacerbated by 30%, 52 and 15% in the future, respectively. These changes are driven by an aerosol size decrease, mainly caused by the acceleration of the Brewer-Dobson circulation, and an increase in eruptive column height. Quantifying changes in both eruptive column dynamics and aerosol lifecycle is therefore key to assessing the climate response to future eruptions.



37 Earth Sciences, 3701 Atmospheric Sciences, 13 Climate Action

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Nat Commun

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Springer Science and Business Media LLC


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Natural Environment Research Council (NE/S00436X/1)
European Commission Horizon 2020 (H2020) Marie Sk?odowska-Curie actions (835939)
Natural Environment Research Council (NE/S000887/1)
Royal Society (NIF\R1\180809)
NERC (via University of Exeter) (NE/T006897/1)
T.J.A. acknowledges support from the Royal Society through a Newton International Fellowship (grant number NIF\R1\180809), from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 835939, and from the Sidney Sussex college through a Junior Research Fellowship. J.S. is supported by NERC through the University of Cambridge ESS-DTP. A.S. acknowledges funding via the NERC V-PLUS project (NE/S00436X/1). L.R.M. and A.S. are funded by the U.K. Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) via the “Vol-Clim” grant (NE/S000887/1). J.H. and A.S. contribution benefitted from support by the NERC ADVANCE (Aerosol-cloud-climate interactions deduced using Degassing VolcANiC Eruptions), grant NE/T006897/1. This work used the ARCHER UK National Supercomputing Service.
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