Climate Dynamics

, Volume 39, Issue 1–2, pp 419–444

Bi-decadal variability excited in the coupled ocean–atmosphere system by strong tropical volcanic eruptions

  • D. Zanchettin
  • C. Timmreck
  • H.-F. Graf
  • A. Rubino
  • S. Lorenz
  • K. Lohmann
  • K. Krüger
  • J. H. Jungclaus
Article

Abstract

Decadal and bi-decadal climate responses to tropical strong volcanic eruptions (SVEs) are inspected in an ensemble simulation covering the last millennium based on the Max Planck Institute—Earth system model. An unprecedentedly large collection of pre-industrial SVEs (up to 45) producing a peak annual-average top-of-atmosphere radiative perturbation larger than −1.5 Wm−2 is investigated by composite analysis. Post-eruption oceanic and atmospheric anomalies coherently describe a fluctuation in the coupled ocean–atmosphere system with an average length of 20–25 years. The study provides a new physically consistent theoretical framework to interpret decadal Northern Hemisphere (NH) regional winter climates variability during the last millennium. The fluctuation particularly involves interactions between the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation and the North Atlantic gyre circulation closely linked to the state of the winter North Atlantic Oscillation. It is characterized by major distinctive details. Among them, the most prominent are: (a) a strong signal amplification in the Arctic region which allows for a sustained strengthened teleconnection between the North Pacific and the North Atlantic during the first post-eruption decade and which entails important implications from oceanic heat transport and from post-eruption sea ice dynamics, and (b) an anomalous surface winter warming emerging over the Scandinavian/Western Russian region around 10–12 years after a major eruption. The simulated long-term climate response to SVEs depends, to some extent, on background conditions. Consequently, ensemble simulations spanning different phases of background multidecadal and longer climate variability are necessary to constrain the range of possible post-eruption decadal evolution of NH regional winter climates.

Keywords

Strong tropical volcanic eruptions Coupled ocean–atmosphere North Atlantic Oscillation Meridional overturning circulation North Atlantic subpolar gyre Millennium simulations 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. Zanchettin
    • 1
  • C. Timmreck
    • 2
  • H.-F. Graf
    • 3
  • A. Rubino
    • 4
  • S. Lorenz
    • 1
  • K. Lohmann
    • 1
  • K. Krüger
    • 5
  • J. H. Jungclaus
    • 1
  1. 1.Ocean in the Earth System DepartmentMax Planck Institute for MeteorologyHamburgGermany
  2. 2.Atmosphere in the Earth System DepartmentMax Planck Institute for MeteorologyHamburgGermany
  3. 3.Centre for Atmospheric ScienceUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK
  4. 4.Department of Environmental SciencesCa’ Foscari UniversityVeniceItaly
  5. 5.IFM-GEOMARLeibniz-Institute of Marine SciencesKielGermany

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