Reduced cooling following future volcanic eruptions

Peter Hopcroft*, Jessica Kandlbauer, Paul Valdes, Stephen Sparks

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)
315 Downloads (Pure)


Volcanic eruptions are an important influence on decadal to centennial climate variability. Large eruptions lead to the formation of a stratospheric sulphate aerosol layer which can cause short-term global cooling. This response is modulated by feedback processes in the earth system, but the influence from future warming has not been assessed before. Using earth system model simulations we find that the eruption-induced cooling is significantly weaker in the future state. This is predominantly due to an increase in planetary albedo caused by increased tropospheric aerosol loading with a contribution from associated changes in cloud properties. The increased albedo of the troposphere reduces the effective volcanic aerosol radiative forcing. Reduced sea-ice coverage and hence feedbacks also contribute over high-latitudes, and an enhanced winter warming signal emerges in the future eruption ensemble. These findings show that the eruption response is a complex function of the environmental conditions, which has implications for the role of eruptions in climate variability in the future and potentially in the past.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1449-1463
Number of pages15
JournalClimate Dynamics
Issue number4
Early online date3 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2018


  • Aerosol
  • HadGEM2-ES
  • Radiative forcing
  • Representative Concentration Pathway
  • Tambora


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