High sensitivity of summer temperatures to stratospheric sulfur loading from volcanoes in the Northern Hemisphere

Andrea Burke, Helen M. Innes, Laura Crick, Kevin J. Anchukaitis, Michael P. Byrne, William Hutchison, Joseph R. McConnell, Kathryn A. Moore, James W.B. Rae, Michael Sigl, Rob Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

The 540s, 1450s, and 1600s represent three of the five coldest decades in the Common Era (CE). In each of these cases, the cause of these cold pulses has been attributed to large volcanic eruptions. However, the provenance of the eruption and magnitude of the volcanic forcing remains uncertain. Here, we use high-resolution sulfur isotopes in Greenland and Antarctic ice cores measured across these events to provide a means of improving sulfur loading estimates for these eruptions. In each case, the largest reconstructed tree-ring cooling is associated with an extratropical eruption, and the high-altitude stratospheric sulfate loading of these events is substantially smaller than previous estimates (by up to a factor of two). These results suggest an increased sensitivity of the reconstructed Northern Hemisphere summer temperature response to extratropical eruptions. This highlights the importance of climate feedbacks and processes that amplify and prolong the cooling signal from high latitudes, such as changes in sea ice extent and ocean heat content.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2221810120
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume120
Issue number47
DOIs
StatePublished - 2023

Keywords

  • climate
  • ice cores
  • sulfur isotopes
  • volcanoes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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