Climate Dynamics

, Volume 48, Issue 11–12, pp 3599–3614 | Cite as

The response of winter Pacific North American pattern to strong volcanic eruptions

  • Zhongfang Liu
  • Kei Yoshimura
  • Nikolaus H. Buenning
  • Zhimin Jian
  • Liang Zhao


The impact of volcanic eruptions on large-scale atmospheric circulation patterns has been well studied, but very little effort has been made on relating the response of Pacific North American (PNA) pattern to strong volcanic eruptions. Here we investigate the response of winter PNA to the largest volcanic eruptions using three different reanalysis datasets. We demonstrate a significant positive PNA circulation response to strong volcanic forcing in the first winter following the eruptions. This circulation pattern is associated with enhanced southwesterly winds advecting warm air from the tropical/subtropical Pacific into northwestern North America and leads to a significant warming in the region. However, no significant PNA signal is found for the second post-eruption winter. The PNA responses to volcanic forcing depend partly upon the modulation of the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events. When the ENSO influence is linearly removed, this positive PNA signal is still robust during the first post-eruption winter, albeit with slightly decreased magnitude and significance. Our findings provide new evidence for volcanic forcing of the Pacific and North American climates. The results presented here may contribute to deconvolving modern and past continental-scale climate changes over North America.


PNA ENSO Volcanic eruptions Superposed epoch analysis 



We are grateful to Dr. Olivier Blarquez for his help with the superposed epoch analysis, Dong Chen and Haimao Lan for assistance with data processing. We also thank the editor and anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments that have greatly improved the quality of the paper. This work was supported by the China Young 1000-Talent Program and the National Science Foundation of China Grants (41305131).

Supplementary material

382_2016_3287_MOESM1_ESM.docx (2.3 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 2335 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zhongfang Liu
    • 1
  • Kei Yoshimura
    • 2
  • Nikolaus H. Buenning
    • 3
  • Zhimin Jian
    • 1
  • Liang Zhao
    • 4
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Marine GeologyTongji UniversityShanghaiChina
  2. 2.Atmosphere and Ocean Research InstituteUniversity of TokyoKashiwaJapan
  3. 3.Department of Earth SciencesUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  4. 4.61741 TroopsBeijingChina

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