Climatic impact of the long-lasting 1783 Laki eruption: Inapplicability of mass-independent sulfur isotopic composition measurements

Anja Schmidt, Thorvaldur Thordarson, Luke D. Oman, Alan Robock, Stephen Self

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations

Abstract

The long-lasting 1783-1784 CE Laki flood lava eruption in Iceland released around 120 Tg of sulfur dioxide into the upper troposphere/lower stratosphere. Northern Hemisphere temperature proxy records of the 1780s indicate below-average temperatures for up to three years following the eruption. The very warm summer of 1783 in Europe, which was followed by a very cold winter, may have been caused by the eruption, but the mechanisms are not yet well understood. Some studies attributed the cold winter 1783-1784 to natural variability of climate. However, our climate model simulations show that the Laki radiative effects lasted long enough to contribute to the winter cooling. We suggest that sulfur isotopic composition measurements obtained using samples from Greenland ice cores do not provide evidence of either a short-lived volcanic aerosol cloud or a short-lived climatic impact of the Laki eruption. In fact, the applicability of mass-independent sulfur isotopic composition measurements for interpreting the climatic impact of any high-latitude eruption remains yet to be demonstrated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberD23116
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research Atmospheres
Volume117
Issue number23
DOIs
StatePublished - 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Forestry
  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Palaeontology

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