Impact of stratospheric volcanic aerosols on age-of-air and transport of long-lived species

Giovanni Pitari, Irene Cionni, Glauco Di Genova, Daniele Visioni, Ilaria Gandolfi, Eva Mancini

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The radiative perturbation associated to stratospheric aerosols from major explosive volcanic eruptions may induce significant changes in stratospheric dynamics. The aerosol heating rates warm up the lower stratosphere and cause a westerly wind anomaly, with additional tropical upwelling. Large scale transport of stratospheric trace species may be perturbed as a consequence of this intensified Brewer-Dobson circulation. The radiatively forced changes of the stratospheric circulation during the first two years after the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo (June 1991) may help explain the observed trend decline of long-lived greenhouse gases at surface stations (approximately -8 and -0.4 ppbv/year for CH4and N2O, respectively). This decline is partly driven by the increased mid- to high-latitude downward flux at the tropopause and also by an increased isolation of the tropical pipe in the vertical layer near the tropopause, with reduced horizontal eddy mixing. Results from a climate-chemistry coupled model are shown for both long-lived trace species and the stratospheric age-of-air. The latter results to be younger by approximately 0.5 year at 30 hPa for 3-4 years after the June 1991 Pinatubo eruption, as a result of the volcanic aerosols radiative perturbation and is consistent with independent estimates based on long time series of in situ profile measurements of SF6and CO2. Younger age of air is also calculated after Agung, El Chichón and Ruiz eruptions, as well as negative anomalies of the N2O growth rate at the extratropical tropopause layer. This type of analysis is made comparing the results of two ensembles of model simulations (1960-2005), one including stratospheric volcanic aerosols and their radiative interactions and a reference case where the volcanic aerosols do not interact with solar and planetary radiation..
Original languageEnglish
Article number149
Pages (from-to)-
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 22 Nov 2016
Externally publishedYes


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Atmospheric Science

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