Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-2021-100
https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-2021-100

  09 Aug 2021

09 Aug 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal CP.

Magnitude, frequency and climate forcing of global volcanism during the last glacial period as seen in Greenland and Antarctic ice cores (60–9 ka)

Jiamei Lin1, Anders Svensson1, Christine S. Hvidberg1, Johannes Lohmann1, Steffen Kristiansen1, Dorthe Dahl-Jensen1,5, Jørgen Peder Steffensen1, Sune Olander Rasmussen1, Eliza Cook1, Helle Astrid Kjær1, Bo M. Vinther1, Hubertus Fischer2, Thomas Stocker2, Michael Sigl2, Matthias Bigler2, Mirko Severi3, Rita Traversi3, and Robert Mulvaney4 Jiamei Lin et al.
  • 1Physics of Ice, Climate and Earth, Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen, 2100, Denmark
  • 2Climate and Environmental Physics, Physics Institute & Oeschger Center for Climate Change Research, University of Bern, Sidlerstrasse 5, Bern, Switzerland
  • 3Department of Chemistry, University of Florence, Florence, Italy
  • 4British Antarctic Survey, Cambridge, UK
  • 5Centre for Earth Observation Science, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada R3T 2N2

Abstract. Large volcanic eruptions occurring in the last glacial period can be detected in terms of their deposited sulfuric acid in continuous ice cores. Here we employ continuous sulfate and sulfur records from three Greenland and three Antarctic ice cores to estimate the emission strength, the frequency and the climatic forcing of large volcanic eruptions that occurred during the second half of the last glacial period and the early Holocene, 60–9 ka years before AD 2000 (b2k). The ice cores are synchronized over most of the investigated interval making it possible to distinguish large eruptions with a global sulfate distribution from eruptions detectable in one hemisphere only. Due to limited data resolution and to a large variability in the sulfate background signal, particularly in the Greenland glacial climate, we only detect Greenland sulfate depositions larger than 20 kg km−2 and Antarctic sulfate depositions larger than 10 kg km−2. With those restrictions, we identify 1113 volcanic eruptions in Greenland and 740 eruptions in Antarctica within the 51 ka period – where the sulfate deposition of 85 eruptions is defined at both poles (bipolar eruptions). Based on the relative Greenland and Antarctic sulfate deposition, we estimate the latitudinal band of the bipolar eruptions and assess their approximate climatic forcing based on established methods. The climate forcing of the five largest eruptions is estimated to be higher than −70 W m−2. Twenty-seven of the identified bipolar eruptions are larger than any volcanic eruption occurring in the last 2500 years and 69 eruptions are estimated to have larger sulfur emission strengths than the VEI-7 Tambora eruption that occurred in Indonesia in 1815 AD. The frequency of eruptions larger than the typical VEI-7 (VEI-8) eruption by the comparison of sulfur emission strength is found to be 5.3 (7) times higher than estimated from geological evidence. Throughout the investigated period, the frequency of volcanic eruptions is rather constant and comparable to that of recent times. During the deglacial period (16–9 ka b2k), however, there is a notable increase in the frequency of volcanic events recorded in Greenland and an obvious increase in the fraction of very large eruptions. For Antarctica, the deglacial period cannot be distinguished from other periods. These volcanoes documented in ice cores provide atmospheric sulfate burden and climate forcing for further research on climate impact and understanding the mechanism of the Earth system.

Jiamei Lin et al.

Status: open (until 04 Oct 2021)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • CC1: 'Comment on cp-2021-100', Alan Robock, 14 Aug 2021 reply
  • RC1: 'Comment on cp-2021-100', Chaochao Gao, 29 Aug 2021 reply
  • RC2: 'Comment on cp-2021-100', Eric Wolff, 02 Sep 2021 reply
  • CC2: 'Comment on cp-2021-100', Jihong Cole-Dai, 05 Sep 2021 reply

Jiamei Lin et al.

Jiamei Lin et al.

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Short summary
We employ acidity records from Greenland and Antarctic ice cores to estimate the emission strength, the frequency and the climatic forcing for large volcanic eruptions from the last half of the last glacial period. Twenty-seven volcanic eruptions are found to be larger than any eruption occurring in the last 2500 years, and we identify more eruptions than obtained from geological evidence. Towards the end of the glacial, there is a notable increase of volcanic activity observed for Greenland.