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Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences


The 21 June 2019 Raikoke eruption (48°N, 153°E) generated one of the largest amounts of sulfur emission to the stratosphere since the 1991 Mt. Pinatubo eruption. Satellite measurements indicate a consensus best estimate of 1.5Tg for the sulfur dioxide (SO2) injected at an altitude of around 14-15km. The peak Northern Hemisphere (NH) mean 525gnm stratospheric aerosol optical depth (SAOD) increased to 0.025, a factor of 3 higher than background levels. The Volcano Response (VolRes) initiative provided a platform for the community to share information about this eruption which significantly enhanced coordination efforts in the days after the eruption. A multi-platform satellite observation subgroup formed to prepare an initial report to present eruption parameters including SO2 emissions and their vertical distribution for the modeling community. It allowed us to make the first estimate of what would be the peak in SAOD 1 week after the eruption using a simple volcanic aerosol model. In this retrospective analysis, we show that revised volcanic SO2 injection profiles yield a higher peak injection of the SO2 mass. This highlights difficulties in accurately representing the vertical distribution for moderate SO2 explosive eruptions in the lowermost stratosphere due to limited vertical sensitivity of the current satellite sensors (±2 km accuracy and low horizontal resolution of lidar observations. We also show that the SO2 lifetime initially assumed in the simple aerosol model was overestimated by 66 %, pointing to challenges for simple models to capture how the life cycle of volcanic gases and aerosols depends on the SO2 injection magnitude, latitude, and height. Using a revised injection profile, modeling results indicate a peak NH monthly mean SAOD at 525 nm of 0.024, in excellent agreement with observations, associated with a global monthly mean radiative forcing of -0.17 W m-2 resulting in an annual global mean surface temperature anomaly of -0.028 K. Given the relatively small magnitude of the forcing, it is unlikely that the surface response can be dissociated from surface temperature variability.

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Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


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