Journal cover Journal topic
Climate of the Past An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
doi:10.5194/cp-2016-53
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
26 May 2016
Review status
This discussion paper is under review for the journal Climate of the Past (CP).
Sulphur-rich volcanic eruptions triggered extreme hydrological events in Europe since AD 1850
Cristina Di Salvo and Gianluca Sottili Istituto di Geologia Ambientale e Geoingegneria IGAG-CNR, Rome, Italy
Abstract. Volcanic and anthropogenic aerosols, by reflecting solar radiation and acting as cloud condensation nuclei, play a key role in the global climate system. Given the contrasting microphysical and radiative effects of SO2 on rainfall amounts and intensities, the combined effects of these two factors are still poorly understood. Here, we show how concentrations of volcanic sulphate aerosols in the atmosphere, as derived from Greenland ice core records, are strictly correlated with dramatic variations of hydrological cycle in Europe. Specifically, since the second half of the 19th century, the intensity of extreme precipitations in Western Europe, and associated river flood events, changed significantly during the 12–24 months following sulphur-rich eruptions. During the same period, volcanic SO2 exerts divergent effects in central and Northern Europe, where river flow regimes are affected, in turn, by the substantial reduction of rainfall intensity and earlier occurrences of ice break-up events. We found that the high sensitivity of North Atlantic Sea Surface Temperature (SST) and North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) to atmospheric SO2 concentrations reveals a complex mechanism of interaction between sulphur-rich eruptions and heat exchange between Ocean and atmosphere with substantial impacts on hydrological regime in Europe.

Citation: Di Salvo, C. and Sottili, G.: Sulphur-rich volcanic eruptions triggered extreme hydrological events in Europe since AD 1850, Clim. Past Discuss., doi:10.5194/cp-2016-53, in review, 2016.
Cristina Di Salvo and Gianluca Sottili
Cristina Di Salvo and Gianluca Sottili
Cristina Di Salvo and Gianluca Sottili

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Short summary
In Europe, intensities of hydrological extreme events were influenced by volcanic SO2 concentrations in the Northern Hemisphere. SO2-rich eruptions, similar to the Bárðarbunga 2014–15 eruption (Iceland), by affecting Ocean-atmosphere heat exchange, affected the intensity of the NAO with effects on rainfall and flood intensities. SO2 effects, superimposed to climate change, could enhance frequencies and intensities of extreme events, thus increasing the natural risks in densely populated area.
In Europe, intensities of hydrological extreme events were influenced by volcanic SO2...
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