1Atmospheric Chemistry Department, Max-Planck-Institute for Chemistry, Mainz, Germany
2Institute for Meteorology and Climate Research, Karlruhe Institute of Technology, Karlsruhe, Germany
3The Cyprus Institute, Nicosia, Cyprus
4Institute for Physics of the Atmosphere, Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz, Germany
Abstract. A multiyear study with the atmospheric chemistry general circulation model EMAC with the aerosol module GMXe at high altitude resolution demonstrates that the sulfur gases COS and SO2, the latter from low-latitude volcanic eruptions, predominantly control the formation of stratospheric aerosol. The model consistently uses the same parameters in the troposphere and stratosphere for 7 aerosol modes applied. Lower boundary conditions for COS and other long-lived trace gases are taken from measurement networks, while estimates of volcanic SO2 emissions are based on satellite observations. We show comparisons with satellite data for aerosol extinction (e.g. SAGE) and SO2 in the middle atmosphere (MIPAS on ENVISAT). This corroborates the interannual variability induced by the Quasi-Biennial Oscillation, which is internally generated by the model. The model also realistically simulates the radiative effects of stratospheric and tropospheric aerosol including the effects on the model dynamics. The medium strength volcanic eruptions of 2005 and 2006 exerted a nonnegligible radiative forcing of up to −0.6 W m−2 in the tropics, while the large Pinatubo eruption caused a maximum though short term tropical forcing of about −10 W m−2. The study also shows that observed upper stratospheric SO2 can be simulated accurately only when a sulphur sink on meteoritic dust is included and the photolysis of gaseous H2SO4 in the near infrared is higher than assumed previously.