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Atmosphere 2016, 7(11), 149; doi:10.3390/atmos7110149

Impact of Stratospheric Volcanic Aerosols on Age-of-Air and Transport of Long-Lived Species

1
Giovanni Pitari, Department of Physical and Chemical Sciences, Università dell’Aquila, 67100 L’Aquila, Italy
2
Enea, Ente per le Nuove Tecnologie, L’Energia e L’Ambiente, 00123 Roma, Italy
3
CETEMPS—Centre of Excellence, Università dell’Aquila, 67100 L’Aquila, Italy
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Robert W. Talbot
Received: 30 September 2016 / Revised: 16 November 2016 / Accepted: 17 November 2016 / Published: 22 November 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Atmospheric Aerosols and Their Radiative Effects)
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Abstract

The radiative perturbation associated to stratospheric aerosols from major explosive volcanic eruptions may induce significant changes in stratospheric dynamics. The aerosol heating rates warm up the lower stratosphere and cause a westerly wind anomaly, with additional tropical upwelling. Large scale transport of stratospheric trace species may be perturbed as a consequence of this intensified Brewer–Dobson circulation. The radiatively forced changes of the stratospheric circulation during the first two years after the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo (June 1991) may help explain the observed trend decline of long-lived greenhouse gases at surface stations (approximately −8 and −0.4 ppbv/year for CH4 and N2O, respectively). This decline is partly driven by the increased mid- to high-latitude downward flux at the tropopause and also by an increased isolation of the tropical pipe in the vertical layer near the tropopause, with reduced horizontal eddy mixing. Results from a climate-chemistry coupled model are shown for both long-lived trace species and the stratospheric age-of-air. The latter results to be younger by approximately 0.5 year at 30 hPa for 3–4 years after the June 1991 Pinatubo eruption, as a result of the volcanic aerosols radiative perturbation and is consistent with independent estimates based on long time series of in situ profile measurements of SF6 and CO2. Younger age of air is also calculated after Agung, El Chichón and Ruiz eruptions, as well as negative anomalies of the N2O growth rate at the extratropical tropopause layer. This type of analysis is made comparing the results of two ensembles of model simulations (1960–2005), one including stratospheric volcanic aerosols and their radiative interactions and a reference case where the volcanic aerosols do not interact with solar and planetary radiation. View Full-Text
Keywords: climate-chemistry model; explosive volcanic eruptions; sulfate aerosols; stratospheric dynamics; long-lived species transport; stratospheric age-of-air climate-chemistry model; explosive volcanic eruptions; sulfate aerosols; stratospheric dynamics; long-lived species transport; stratospheric age-of-air
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Pitari, G.; Cionni, I.; Di Genova, G.; Visioni, D.; Gandolfi, I.; Mancini, E. Impact of Stratospheric Volcanic Aerosols on Age-of-Air and Transport of Long-Lived Species. Atmosphere 2016, 7, 149.

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