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Immediate and long-lasting impacts of the Mt. Pinatubo eruption on ocean oxygen and carbon inventories
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  • Amanda R Fay,
  • Galen A McKinley,
  • Nicole Suzanne Lovenduski,
  • Yassir A. Eddebbar,
  • Michael N Levy,
  • Matthew C. Long,
  • Holly Olivarez,
  • Rea R Rustagi
Amanda R Fay
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Galen A McKinley
Columbia University and Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
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Nicole Suzanne Lovenduski
University of Colorado Boulder
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Yassir A. Eddebbar
Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego
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Michael N Levy
National Center for Atmospheric Research (UCAR)
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Matthew C. Long
National Center for Atmospheric Research (UCAR)
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Holly Olivarez
University of Colorado Boulder
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Rea R Rustagi
Columbia University
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Large volcanic eruptions drive significant climate perturbations through major anomalies in radiative fluxes and the resulting widespread cooling of the surface and upper ocean. Recent studies suggest that these eruptions also drive important variability in air-sea carbon and oxygen fluxes. By simulating the Earth system using two initial-condition large ensembles, with and without the aerosol forcing associated with the Mt. Pinatubo eruption in June 1991, we isolate the impact of this event on ocean physical and biogeochemical properties. The Mt. Pinatubo eruption generated significant anomalies in surface fluxes and the ocean interior inventories of heat, oxygen, and carbon. Pinatubo-driven changes persist for multiple years in the upper ocean and permanently modify the ocean’s heat, oxygen, and carbon inventories. Positive anomalies in oxygen concentrations emerge immediately post-eruption and penetrate into the deep ocean. In contrast, carbon anomalies intensify in the upper ocean over several years post-eruption, and are largely confined to the upper 150 m. In the tropics and northern high latitudes, the change in oxygen is dominated by surface cooling and subsequent ventilation to mid-depths, while the carbon anomaly is associated with solubility changes and eruption-generated ENSO variability. Our results indicate that Pinatubo does not substantially impact oxygen or carbon in the Southern Ocean; forced signals do not emerge from the large internal variability in this region.