Linearity of the climate response to increasingly strong tropical volcanic eruptions in a large ensemble framework

Claudia Timmereck, Dirk Olonscheck, Andrew P. Ballinger, Roberta D'Agostino, Shih-Wei Fang, Andrew Schurer, Gabi Hegerl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Large explosive volcanic eruptions cause short-term climatic impacts on both regional and global scales. Their impact on tropical climate variability, in particular El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO), is still uncertain, as is their combined and separate effect on tropical and global precipitation. Here, we investigate the relationship between large-scale temperature and precipitation and tropical volcanic eruption strength, using 100-member MPI-ESM ensembles for idealized equatorial symmetric Northern Hemisphere summer eruptions of different sulfur emission strengths. Our results show that for idealized tropical eruptions, global and hemispheric mean near-surface temperature and precipitation anomalies are negative and linearly scalable for sulfur emissions between 10 and 40 Tg S. We identify 20 Tg S emission as a threshold where the global ensemble-mean near-surface temperature and precipitation signals exceed the range of internal variability, even though some ensemble members emerge from variability for lower eruption strengths. Seasonal and ensemble mean patterns of near-surface temperature and precipitation anomalies are highly correlated across eruption strengths, in particular for larger emission strengths in the tropics, and strongly modulated by ENSO. There is a tendency to shift toward a warm ENSO phase for the first postvolcanic year as the emission strength increases. Volcanic cooling emerges on a hemisphere-wide scale, while the precipitation response is more localized, and emergence is mainly confined to the tropics and subtropics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2455–2470
JournalJournal of Climate
Issue number8
Early online date15 Mar 2024
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2024


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