Sulfate aerosols from non-explosive volcanoes: Chemical-radiative effects in the troposphere and lower stratosphere

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

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SO2and H2S are the two most important gas-phase sulfur species emitted by volcanoes, with a global amount from non-explosive emissions of the order 10 Tg-S/yr. These gases are readily oxidized forming SO42-aerosols, which effectively scatter the incoming solar radiation and cool the surface. They also perturb atmospheric chemistry by enhancing the NOxto HNO3heterogeneous conversion via hydrolysis on the aerosol surface of N2O5and Br-Cl nitrates. This reduces formation of tropospheric O3and the OH to HO2ratio, thus limiting the oxidation of CH4and increasing its lifetime. In addition to this tropospheric chemistry perturbation, there is also an impact on the NOxheterogeneous chemistry in the lower stratosphere, due to vertical transport of volcanic SO2up to the tropical tropopause layer. Furthermore, the stratospheric O3formation and loss, as well as the NOxbudget, may be slightly affected by the additional amount of upward diffused solar radiation and consequent increase of photolysis rates. Two multi-decadal time-slice runs of a climate-chemistry-aerosol model have been designed for studying these chemical-radiative effects. A tropopause mean global net radiative flux change (RF) of -0.23 W·m-2is calculated (including direct and indirect aerosol effects) with a 14% increase of the global mean sulfate aerosol optical depth. A 5-15 ppt NOx decrease is found in the mid-troposphere subtropics and mid-latitudes and also from pole to pole in the lower stratosphere. The tropospheric NOx perturbation triggers a column O3 decrease of 0.5-1.5 DU and a 1.1% increase of the CH4 lifetime. The surface cooling induced by solar radiation scattering by the volcanic aerosols induces a tropospheric stabilization with reduced updraft velocities that produce ice supersaturation conditions in the upper troposphere. A global mean 0.9% decrease of the cirrus ice optical depth is calculated with an indirect RF of -0.08 Wcm-2.
Original languageEnglish
Article number85
Pages (from-to)-
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jun 2016
Externally publishedYes


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)

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