Decadal Disruption of the QBO by Tropical Volcanic Supereruptions
Brenna, Hans; Kutterolf, Steffen; Mills, Michael; Niemeier, Ulrike; Timmreck, Claudia; Krüger, Kirstin.
Geophysical Research Letters

The Los Chocoyos (14.6°N, 91.2°W) supereruption happened ∼75,000 years ago in Guatemala and was one of the largest eruptions of the past 100,000 years. It emitted enormous amounts of sulfur, chlorine, and bromine, with multi-decadal consequences for the global climate and environment. Here, we simulate the impact of a Los Chocoyos-like eruption on the quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO), an oscillation of zonal winds in the tropical stratosphere, with a comprehensive aerosol chemistry Earth System Model. We find a ∼10-year disruption of the QBO starting 4 months post eruption, with anomalous easterly winds lasting ∼5 years, followed by westerlies, before returning to QBO conditions with a slightly prolonged periodicity. Volcanic aerosol heating and ozone depletion cooling leads to the QBO disruption and anomalous wind regimes through radiative changes and wave-mean flow interactions. Different model ensembles, volcanic forcing scenarios and results of a second model back up the robustness of our results.