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Major Volcanic Eruptions and Climate: A Critical Evaluation

Clifford F. MassDepartment of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington

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David A. PortmanDepartment of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington

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Abstract

This paper examines whether major volcanic eruptions of the past century have had a significant impact on surface land and ocean temperatures surface pressure and precipitation. Both multieruption composites and individual eruption time series are constructed and analyzed. Included in this work is an attempt to remove one source of interannual variability the El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO). These exercises indicate that only the largest eruptions (in terms of producing a stratospheric dust cloud) are suggested in the climatic record. Removing the ENSO signal in the composite and individual eruption series enhances the apparent volcanic effect of the largest eruptions. No volcanic signal is obvious in pressure and precipitation records.

Abstract

This paper examines whether major volcanic eruptions of the past century have had a significant impact on surface land and ocean temperatures surface pressure and precipitation. Both multieruption composites and individual eruption time series are constructed and analyzed. Included in this work is an attempt to remove one source of interannual variability the El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO). These exercises indicate that only the largest eruptions (in terms of producing a stratospheric dust cloud) are suggested in the climatic record. Removing the ENSO signal in the composite and individual eruption series enhances the apparent volcanic effect of the largest eruptions. No volcanic signal is obvious in pressure and precipitation records.

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