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Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Research article
16 Jun 2017
Review status
This discussion paper is under review for the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP).
MIPAS observations of volcanic sulphate aerosol and sulphur dioxide in the stratosphere
Annika Günther1, Michael Höpfner1, Björn-Martin Sinnhuber1, Sabine Griessbach2, Terry Deshler3, Thomas von Clarmann1, and Gabriele Stiller1 1Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Institute of Meteorology and Climate Research, Karlsruhe, Germany
2Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH, Institute for Advanced Simulation, Jülich, Germany
3University of Wyoming, Department of Atmospheric Science, Laramie, Wyoming, USA
Abstract. Volcanic eruptions can increase the stratospheric sulphur content by orders of magnitude above the background level and are the most important source of variability of stratospheric sulphur loading. We present a set of vertical profiles of sulphate aerosol volume densities and derived liquid-phase H2SO4 mole-fractions for 2005–2012, retrieved from infrared limb emission measurements by the Michelson Interferometer for Passive Atmospheric Sounding (MIPAS) on board of the Environmental Satellite. The MIPAS aerosol dataset has been corrected for a possible altitude-dependent bias by comparison with balloon-borne in situ aerosol measurements at Laramie, Wyoming. The MIPAS data of stratospheric sulphate aerosol is linked to MIPAS observations of sulphur dioxide (SO2) with the help of Chemical Transport Model simulations. We investigate the production of sulphate aerosol and its fate from volcanically emitted SO2 for two volcanic case studies: the eruptions of Kasatochi in 2008 and Sarychev in 2009, which both occurred in the Northern Hemisphere mid-latitudes during boreal summer. We show that the MIPAS sulphate aerosol and SO2 data are qualitatively and quantitatively consistent to each other. Further, we demonstrate that the lifetime of SO2 is well described by its oxidation by hydroxyl radicals. While sedimentation of the sulphate aerosol plays a role, we find that the dominant mechanism controlling the stratospheric lifetime of sulphur after these volcanic eruptions at mid-latitudes is transport in the Brewer-Dobson circulation. Sulphur emitted by the two mid-latitude volcanoes resides mostly north of 30° N at altitudes of ~ 10–16 km, while at higher altitudes (~ 18–22 km) part of the volcanic sulphur is transported towards the equator where it is lifted into the stratospheric overworld and can further be transported into both hemispheres.

Citation: Günther, A., Höpfner, M., Sinnhuber, B.-M., Griessbach, S., Deshler, T., von Clarmann, T., and Stiller, G.: MIPAS observations of volcanic sulphate aerosol and sulphur dioxide in the stratosphere, Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss.,, in review, 2017.
Annika Günther et al.
Annika Günther et al.
Annika Günther et al.


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Short summary
Satellite data of sulphur dioxide and a new data set of sulphate aerosol are studied in the altitude region 10–22 km. General patterns of enhanced sulphate aerosol are consistent with SO2, its main precursor. For two volcanic eruptions in the Northern-Hemisphere mid-latitudes, we link the new MIPAS data set of sulphate aerosol with MIPAS measurements of SO2, and show consistency in terms of mass and transport. At higher altitudes parts of the sulphate aerosol are transported towards the equator.
Satellite data of sulphur dioxide and a new data set of sulphate aerosol are studied in the...