Role of atmospheric chemistry in the climate impacts of stratospheric
Allegra N. LeGrande, Kostas Tsigaridis & Susanne E. Bauer
Nature Geoscience 9, 652–655 (2016)
08 August 2016
The climate impact of a volcanic eruption is known to be dependent on the
size, location and timing of the eruption. However, the chemistry and
composition of the volcanic plume also control its impact on climate. It is
not just sulfur dioxide gas, but also the coincident emissions of water,
halogens and ash that influence the radiative and climate forcing of an
eruption. Improvements in the capability of models to capture aerosol
microphysics, and the inclusion of chemistry and aerosol microphysics
modules in Earth system models, allow us to evaluate the interaction of
composition and chemistry within volcanic plumes in a new way. These
modelling efforts also illustrate the role of water vapour in controlling
the chemical evolution — and hence climate impacts — of the plume. A
growing realization of the importance of the chemical composition of
volcanic plumes is leading to a more sophisticated and realistic
representation of volcanic forcing in climate simulations, which in turn
aids in reconciling simulations and proxy reconstructions of the climate
impacts of past volcanic eruptions. More sophisticated simulations are
expected to help, eventually, with predictions of the impact on the Earth
system of any future large volcanic eruptions.
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