Impacts of Mt Pinatubo volcanic aerosol on the tropical stratosphere in chemistry-climate model simulations using CCMI and CMIP6 stratospheric aerosol data
To simulate the impacts of volcanic eruptions on the stratosphere, chemistry–climate models that do not include an online aerosol module require temporally and spatially resolved aerosol size parameters for heterogeneous chemistry and aerosol radiative properties as a function of wavelength. For phase 1 of the Chemistry-Climate Model Initiative (CCMI-1) and, later, for phase 6 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP6) two such stratospheric aerosol data sets were compiled, whose functional capability and representativeness are compared here. For CCMI-1, the “SAGE-4λ” data set was compiled, which hinges on the measurements at four wavelengths of the SAGE (Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment) II satellite instrument and uses ground-based lidar measurements for gap-filling immediately after the 1991 Mt Pinatubo eruption, when the stratosphere was too optically opaque for SAGE II. For CMIP6, the new “SAGE-3λ” data set was compiled, which excludes the least reliable SAGE II wavelength and uses measurements from CLAES (Cryogenic Limb Array Etalon Spectrometer) on UARS, the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite, for gap-filling following the Mt Pinatubo eruption instead of ground-based lidars. Here, we performed SOCOLv3 (Solar Climate Ozone Links version 3) chemistry–climate model simulations of the recent past (1986–2005) to investigate the impact of the Mt Pinatubo eruption in 1991 on stratospheric temperature and ozone and how this response differs depending on which aerosol data set is applied. The use of SAGE-4λ results in heating and ozone loss being overestimated in the tropical lower stratosphere compared to observations in the post-eruption period by approximately 3 K and 0.2 ppmv, respectively. However, less heating occurs in the model simulations based on SAGE-3λ, because the improved gap-filling procedures after the eruption lead to less aerosol loading in the tropical lower stratosphere. As a result, simulated tropical temperature anomalies in the model simulations based on SAGE-3λ for CMIP6 are in excellent agreement with MERRA and ERA-Interim reanalyses in the post-eruption period. Less heating in the simulations with SAGE-3λ means that the rate of tropical upwelling does not strengthen as much as it does in the simulations with SAGE-4λ, which limits dynamical uplift of ozone and therefore provides more time for ozone to accumulate in tropical mid-stratospheric air. Ozone loss following the Mt Pinatubo eruption is overestimated by up to 0.1 ppmv in the model simulations based on SAGE-3λ, which is a better agreement with observations than in the simulations based on SAGE-4λ. Overall, the CMIP6 stratospheric aerosol data set, SAGE-3λ, allows SOCOLv3 to more accurately simulate the post-Pinatubo eruption period.