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Earth System Science Data The Data Publishing Journal
https://doi.org/10.5194/essd-2017-31
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
 
19 Jun 2017
Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of this manuscript was accepted for the journal Earth System Science Data (ESSD) and is expected to appear here in due course.
Volcanic stratospheric sulphur injections and aerosol optical depth from 500 BCE to 1900 CE
Matthew Toohey1 and Michael Sigl2,3 1GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, Germany
2Laboratory of Environmental Chemistry, Paul Scherrer Institute, 5232 Villigen, Switzerland
3Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research, 3012 Bern, Switzerland
Abstract. The injection of sulphur into the stratosphere by explosive volcanic eruptions is the cause of significant climate variability. Based on sulphate records from a suite of ice cores from Greenland and Antarctica, the eVolv2k database includes estimates of the magnitudes and approximate source latitudes of major volcanic stratospheric sulphur injection (VSSI) events from 500 BCE to 1900 CE, constituting an update of prior reconstructions and an extension of the record by 1000 years. The VSSI estimates incorporate improvements to the ice core records in terms of synchronization and dating, refinements to the methods used to estimate VSSI from ice core records, and includes first estimates of the random uncertainties in VSSI values. VSSI estimates for many of the largest eruptions, including Samalas (1257), Tambora (1815) and Laki (1783) are within 10% of prior estimates. A number of strong events are included in eVolv2k which are largely underestimated or not included in earlier VSSI reconstructions, including events in 540, 574, 682 and 1108 CE. The long term annual mean VSSI from major volcanic eruptions is estimated to be ∼ 0.5 Tg [S] yr−1, ∼ 50 % greater than a prior reconstruction, due to the identification of more events and an increase in the magnitude of many intermediate events. A long-term, latitudinally and monthly resolved stratospheric aerosol optical depth (SAOD) time series is reconstructed from the eVolv2k VSSI estimates, and the resulting global mean SAOD is found to be similar (within 33%) to a prior reconstruction for most of the largest eruptions. The long-term (500 BCE–900 CE) average global mean SAOD estimated from the eVolv2k VSSI estimates and including a constant "background" injection of stratospheric sulphur is ∼ 0.014, 30 % greater than a prior reconstruction. These new long-term reconstructions of past VSSI and SAOD variability give context to recent volcanic forcing, suggesting that the 20th century was a period of somewhat weaker than average volcanic forcing, with current best estimates of 20th century mean VSSI and SAOD values being 25 and 14 % less, respectively, than the mean of the 500 BCE to 1900 CE period. The reconstructed VSSI and SAOD data are available at https://doi.org/10.1594/WDCC/eVolv2k_v2>.

Citation: Toohey, M. and Sigl, M.: Volcanic stratospheric sulphur injections and aerosol optical depth from 500 BCE to 1900 CE, Earth Syst. Sci. Data Discuss., https://doi.org/10.5194/essd-2017-31, in review, 2017.
Matthew Toohey and Michael Sigl
Matthew Toohey and Michael Sigl

Data sets

Reconstructed volcanic stratospheric sulfur injections and aerosol optical depth, 500 BCE to 1900 CE, version 2
M. Toohey and M. Sigl
https://doi.org/10.1594/WDCC/eVolv2k_v2
Matthew Toohey and Michael Sigl

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Short summary
The injection of sulphur into the stratosphere by explosive volcanic eruptions is the cause of significant climate variability. Based on sulphate records from a suite of ice cores from Greenland and Antarctica, the eVolv2k database includes estimates of the magnitudes and approximate source latitudes of major volcanic stratospheric sulphur injection events from 500 BCE to 1900 CE, constituting an update of prior reconstructions and an extension of the record by 1000 years.
The injection of sulphur into the stratosphere by explosive volcanic eruptions is the cause of...
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