Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, vol. 11, issue 23 (2011) pp. 12351-12367
Simulations of tropical volcanic eruptions using a general circulation model with coupled aerosol microphysics are used to assess the influence of season of eruption on the aerosol evolution and radiative impacts at the Earth's surface. This analysis is presented for eruptions with SO2 injection magnitudes of 17 and 700 Tg, the former consistent with estimates of the 1991 Mt. Pinatubo eruption, the later a near-"super eruption". For each eruption magnitude, simulations are performed with eruptions at 15 N, at four equally spaced times of year, and sensitivity to eruption season is quantified as the difference between the maximum and minimum cumulative anomalies. Eruption season has a significant influence on aerosol optical depth (AOD) and clear-sky shortwave (SW) radiative flux anomalies for both eruption magnitudes. The sensitivity to eruption season for both fields is generally weak in the tropics, but increases in the mid- and high latitudes, reaching maximum values of ~80 %. Global mean AOD and clear-sky SW anomalies show sensitivity to eruption season on the order of 15-20 which results from differences in aerosol effective radius for the different eruption seasons. Smallest aerosol size and largest cumulative impact result from a January eruption for the Pinatubo-magnitude, and from a July eruption for the near-super eruption. In contrast to AOD and clear-sky SW anomalies, all-sky SW anomalies are found to be insensitive to season of eruption for the Pinatubo-magnitude eruption experiment, due to the reflection of solar radiation by clouds in the mid- to high latitudes. However, differences in all-sky SW anomalies between eruptions in different seasons are significant for the larger eruption magnitude, and the ~15 % sensitivity to eruption season of the global mean all-sky SW anomalies is comparable to the sensitivity of global mean AOD and clear-sky SW anomalies. Our estimates of sensitivity to eruption season are larger than previously reported estimates: implications regarding volcanic AOD timeseries reconstructions and their use in climate models are discussed.
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