Articles | Volume 15, issue 23
Research article
09 Dec 2015
Research article |  | 09 Dec 2015

Global temperature response to the major volcanic eruptions in multiple reanalysis data sets

M. Fujiwara, T. Hibino, S. K. Mehta, L. Gray, D. Mitchell, and J. Anstey

Abstract. The global temperature responses to the eruptions of Mount Agung in 1963, El Chichón in 1982, and Mount Pinatubo in 1991 are investigated using nine currently available reanalysis data sets (JRA-55, MERRA, ERA-Interim, NCEP-CFSR, JRA-25, ERA-40, NCEP-1, NCEP-2, and 20CR). Multiple linear regression is applied to the zonal and monthly mean time series of temperature for two periods, 1979–2009 (for eight reanalysis data sets) and 1958–2001 (for four reanalysis data sets), by considering explanatory factors of seasonal harmonics, linear trends, Quasi-Biennial Oscillation, solar cycle, and El Niño Southern Oscillation. The residuals are used to define the volcanic signals for the three eruptions separately, and common and different responses among the older and newer reanalysis data sets are highlighted for each eruption. In response to the Mount Pinatubo eruption, most reanalysis data sets show strong warming signals (up to 2–3 K for 1-year average) in the tropical lower stratosphere and weak cooling signals (down to −1 K) in the subtropical upper troposphere. For the El Chichón eruption, warming signals in the tropical lower stratosphere are somewhat smaller than those for the Mount Pinatubo eruption. The response to the Mount Agung eruption is asymmetric about the equator with strong warming in the Southern Hemisphere midlatitude upper troposphere to lower stratosphere. Comparison of the results from several different reanalysis data sets confirms the atmospheric temperature response to these major eruptions qualitatively, but also shows quantitative differences even among the most recent reanalysis data sets. The consistencies and differences among different reanalysis data sets provide a measure of the confidence and uncertainty in our current understanding of the volcanic response. The results of this intercomparison study may be useful for validation of climate model responses to volcanic forcing and for assessing proposed geoengineering by stratospheric aerosol injection, as well as to link studies using only a single reanalysis data set to other studies using a different reanalysis data set.

Short summary
This paper evaluates the temperature response in the troposphere and the stratosphere to the three major volcanic eruptions between the 1960s and the 1990s by comparing nine reanalysis data sets. It was found that the volcanic temperature response patterns differ among the major eruptions and that in general, more recent reanalysis data sets show a more consistent response pattern.
Final-revised paper