Global microphysical simulation of stratospheric sulfate aerosol after the Mt. Pinatubo eruption

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Takashi Sekiya and Kengo Sudo, Nagoya University, Nagoya, Japan
An explosive volcanic eruption can inject a large amount of SO2 into the stratosphere, which is oxidized to form sulfate aerosol. Such aerosol has an impact on the Earth’s radiative budget by enhancing back-scattering of the solar radiation. Changes in the size distribution of the aerosol were observed after large volcanic eruptions. Representing the changes in size distribution is important for climate simulation, because the changes affect climate responses to large volcanic eruptions. This study newly developed an aerosol microphysics module and investigated changes in stratospheric sulfate aerosol after the Mt. Pinatubo eruption in the framework of a chemistry-aerosol coupled climate model MIROC-CHASER/SPRINTARS. The module represents aerosol size distribution with three lognormal modes (nucleation, Aitken, and accumulation modes) and includes nucleation, condensation growth/evaporation, and coagulation processes. As a model evaluation, we tested reproducibility of the impacts of the Mt. Pinatubo eruption. We carried out a simulation, in which 20 Mt of SO2 and 100 Mt of volcanic ash were injected respectively into 25 km and 16—22 km altitudes over Mt. Pinatubo (120.4°E, 15.1°N) on June 15th 1991. We compared the model results with space-borne and balloon-borne observations. Although our model overestimated a near-global mean (60°N—60°S) of stratospheric aerosol optical depth (SAOD) observed by SAGE II instrument until one year after the eruption, it reproduced the observed SAOD in the subsequent period. The model well captured the observed increase of effective radius at 20 km altitude in the northern midlatitudes. In addition, we analyzed the pathway of volcanic sulfur from SO2 to sulfate aerosol. The most amount of the volcanic sulfur was converted from SO2 to accumulation mode aerosol by 100 days after the eruption. The conversion into the accumulation mode aerosol is attributable to coagulation until the first 14 days and to condensation growth after that.