The global precipitation response to volcanic eruptions in the CMIP5 models

Carley Iles, Gabi Hegerl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We examine the precipitation response to volcanic eruptions in the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5) historical simulations compared to three observational datasets, including one with ocean coverage. Global precipitation decreases significantly following eruptions in CMIP5 models, with the largest decrease in wet tropical regions. This also occurs in observational land data, and ocean data in the boreal cold season. Monsoon rainfall decreases following eruptions in both models and observations. In response to individual eruptions, the ITCZ shifts away from the hemisphere with the greater concentration of aerosols in CMIP5. Models undergo a longer-lasting ocean precipitation response than over land, but the response in the short satellite record is too noisy to confirm this. We detect the influence of volcanism on precipitation in all three datasets in the cold season, although the models underestimate the size of the response. In the warm season the volcanic influence is only marginally detectable.
Original languageEnglish
Article number104012
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Publication statusPublished - 14 Oct 2014


  • volcano-climate interactions
  • CMIP5
  • precipitation
  • short-wave geoengineering
  • climate models
  • hydrological cycle
  • climate variability


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