Sensitivity of volcanic aerosol dispersion to meteorological conditions: A Pinatubo case study
Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
American Geophysical Union (AGU)
©2016. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.
Using a global climate model (Hadley Centre Global Environment Model version 2-Carbon Cycle Stratosphere ) with a well-resolved stratosphere, we test the sensitivity of volcanic aerosol plume dispersion to meteorological conditions by simulating 1 day Mount Pinatubo-like eruptions on 10 consecutive days. The dispersion of the volcanic aerosol is found to be highly sensitive to the ambient meteorology for low-altitude eruptions (16–18 km), with this variability related to anomalous anticyclonic activity along the subtropical jet, which affects the permeability of the tropical pipe and controls the amount of aerosol that is retained by the tropical reservoir. Conversely, a high-altitude eruption scenario (19–29 km) exhibits low meteorological variability. Overcoming day-to-day meteorological variability by spreading the emission over 10 days is shown to produce insufficient radiative heating to loft the aerosol into the stratospheric tropical aerosol reservoir for the low eruption scenario. This results in limited penetration of aerosol into the southern hemisphere (SH) in contrast to the SH transport observed after the Pinatubo eruption. Our results have direct implications for the accurate simulation of past/future volcanic eruptions and volcanically forced climate changes, such as Intertropical Convergence Zone displacement.
A.C.J. was funded by a NERC/CASE PhD studentship (ref. 580 009 138, with CASE partner being the Met Office); J.M.H. and A.J. were supported by the Joint UK DECC/Defra Met Office Hadley Centre Climate Programme (GA01101). The authors would like to thank Larry Thomason for supplying the SAGE II data. Data are freely available by contacting A.C.J.
This is the final version of the article. Available from American Geophysical Union via the DOI in this record.
Vol. 121, Iss. 12, pp. 6892 - 6908