Climate Dynamics

, Volume 25, Issue 7–8, pp 725–738 | Cite as

An AOGCM simulation of the climate response to a volcanic super-eruption

  • Gareth S. JonesEmail author
  • Jonathan M. Gregory
  • Peter A. Stott
  • Simon F. B. Tett
  • Robert B. Thorpe


Volcanic ‘super-eruptions’ have been suggested to have significantly influenced the Earth’s climate, perhaps causing glaciations and impacting on the human population. Climatic changes following a hypothetical ‘super-eruption’ are simulated using a coupled atmosphere ocean general circulation model, incorporating scaled volcanic stratospheric aerosols. Assumptions are made about the stratospheric sulphate aerosol loading, size distribution, lifetime, chemical make up and spatial distribution. As this study is concentrating on the physical climatological impacts over long timescales, microphysics and chemical interactive processes are not simulated. Near-surface temperatures fall by as much as 10 K globally for a few months and a considerable deviation from normal temperatures continues for several decades. A warming pattern is evident over northern land masses during the winter due to increased longwave forcing and a positive AO mode. The overturning rate of the North Atlantic thermohaline circulation doubles in intensity. Snow and ice increases in extent to a maximum coverage of 35% of the Earth. Despite these and other impacts longer term climatic changes that could lead to a transition to a glaciation do not occur, for present day boundary conditions and one possible plausible aerosol loading.


Optical Depth Diurnal Temperature Range Sulphate Aerosol Arctic Oscillation Stratospheric Aerosol 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Financial support to carry out the simulation and fund the authors was provided by UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs contract PECD 7/12/37 with additional funding for SFBT from the UK Government Met. Research contract. Thanks are due the many people who worked on developing HadCM3 at the Hadley Centre and to William Ingram and Michel Crucifix for comments. We would also like to thank the reviewers for their helpful comments and suggestions.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gareth S. Jones
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jonathan M. Gregory
    • 1
    • 3
  • Peter A. Stott
    • 2
  • Simon F. B. Tett
    • 2
  • Robert B. Thorpe
    • 1
  1. 1.Met OfficeHadley Centre for Climate Prediction and ResearchExeter, DevonUnited Kingdom
  2. 2.Met Office, Hadley Centre (Reading Unit), Meteorology BuildingUniversity of ReadingReadingUnited Kingdom
  3. 3.CGAM, Department of MeteorologyUniversity of ReadingReadingUnited Kingdom

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