05 Aug 2022
05 Aug 2022
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal ACP.

Interactive Stratospheric Aerosol models response to different amount and altitude of SO2 injections during the 1991 Pinatubo eruption

Ilaria Quaglia1, Claudia Timmreck2, Ulrike Niemeier2, Daniele Visioni3, Giovanni Pitari1, Christoph Brühl4, Sandip Dhomse5, Henning Franke2,6, Anton Laakso7, Graham Mann5,8, Eugene Rozanov9,10, and Timofei Sukhodolov9,10 Ilaria Quaglia et al.
  • 1Department of Physical and Chemical Sciences, Università dell’Aquila, 67100 L’Aquila, Italy
  • 2Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Bundesstr. 53, 20146 Hamburg, Germany
  • 3Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA
  • 4Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Mainz, Germany
  • 5School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK
  • 6International Max Planck Research School on Earth System Modelling, Bundesstr. 53, 20146 Hamburg, Germany
  • 7Finnish Meteorological Institute, Atmospheric Research Centre of Eastern Finland, 70200 Kuopio, Finland
  • 8UK National Centre for Atmospheric Science, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK
  • 9Physikalisch-Meteorologisches Observatorium Davos and World Radiation Center, Davos, Switzerland
  • 10Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science, ETH Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland

Abstract. Recent model inter-comparison studies highlighted model discrepancies in reproducing the climatic impacts of large explosive volcanic eruptions, calling into question the reliability of global aerosol model simulations for future scenarios. Here, we analyse the simulated evolution of the stratospheric aerosol plume following the well observed June 1991 Mt. Pinatubo eruption by six interactive stratospheric aerosol microphysics models in comparison to a range of observational data sets.

Our primary focus is on the uncertainties regarding initial SO2 emission following the Pinatubo eruption in 1991, as prescribed in the Historical Eruptions SO2 Emission Assessment experiments (HErSEA), in the framework of the model intercomparison project ISA-MIP. Six global models with interactive aerosol microphysics took part in this study: ECHAM6-SALSA, EMAC, ECHAM5-HAM, SOCOL-AERv2, ULAQ-CCM and UM-UKCA. Model simulations are performed by varying SO2 injection amount (ranging between 5 and 10 Tg-S), and the altitude of injection (between 18–25 km).

We find that the common and main weakness among all the models is that they can not reproduce the persistence of the sulfate aerosols in the stratosphere. Most models show a stronger transport towards the extratropics in the northern hemisphere, at the expense of the observed tropical confinement, suggesting a much weaker subtropical barrier in all the models, that results in a shorter e-folding time compared to the observations. Moreover, the simulations in which more than 5 Tg-S of SO2 are injected show a large surface area density a few months after the eruption compared to the values measured in the tropics and the in-situ measurements over Laramie. This results in an overestimation of the number of particles globally during the build-up phase, and an underestimation in the Southern Hemisphere, which draws attention to the importance of including processes as the ash injection and the eruption of Cerro Hudson.

Ilaria Quaglia et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on acp-2022-514', Thomas Aubry, 30 Aug 2022
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Ilaria Quaglia, 25 Nov 2022
  • CC1: 'Comment on acp-2022-514', Graham Mann, 31 Aug 2022
  • RC2: 'Comment on acp-2022-514', Davide Zanchettin, 17 Sep 2022
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Ilaria Quaglia, 25 Nov 2022

Ilaria Quaglia et al.

Ilaria Quaglia et al.


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Short summary
The last very large explosive volcanic eruption we have measurements for is the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991. It is therefore often used as a benchmark for climate models ability to reproduce these kind of events. Here, we compare available measurements with the results from multiple experiments conducted with climate models interactively simulating the aerosol cloud formation.