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Injection of sulphate aerosols into the stratosphere following major volcanic eruptions alters global climate through the absorption and scattering of solar radiation. One proposed consequence is a decrease in North Atlantic Tropical Cyclone (TC) activity, as was observed following the El Chichõn (1982) and Mount Pinatubo (1991) eruptions. We test this relationship using documentary and proxy reconstructions of major volcanic eruptions and TC frequency in the North Atlantic basin over the last three centuries. We find a consistent reduction in the number of TCs formed during the 3 years following major eruptions compared to the preceding 3 years, including after eruptions located at northern high latitudes. Our findings suggest that low-latitude eruptions reduce Atlantic TC frequency by decreasing local sea surface temperatures, whereas the mechanisms for the decrease in TC frequency following high-latitude eruptions are less clear and attribution is hampered by poor identification of these events.
- volcanoes and tropical cyclones