Impact of major volcanic eruptions on stratospheric water vapour
Abstract. Volcanic eruptions can have a significant impact on the Earth's weather and climate system. Besides the subsequent tropospheric changes, the stratosphere is also influenced by large eruptions. Here changes in stratospheric water vapour after the two major volcanic eruptions of El Chichón in Mexico in 1982 and Mount Pinatubo on the Philippines in 1991 are investigated with chemistry–climate model simulations. This study is based on two simulations with specified dynamics of the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts Hamburg – Modular Earth Submodel System (ECHAM/MESSy) Atmospheric Chemistry (EMAC) model, performed within the Earth System Chemistry integrated Modelling (ESCiMo) project, of which only one includes the long-wave volcanic forcing through prescribed aerosol optical properties.
The results show a significant increase in stratospheric water vapour induced by the eruptions, resulting from increased heating rates and the subsequent changes in stratospheric and tropopause temperatures in the tropics. The tropical vertical advection and the South Asian summer monsoon are identified as sources for the additional water vapour in the stratosphere. Additionally, volcanic influences on tropospheric water vapour and El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) are evident, if the long-wave forcing is strong enough.
Our results are corroborated by additional sensitivity simulations of the Mount Pinatubo period with reduced nudging and reduced volcanic aerosol extinction.