loading page

Disentangling the mechanisms of ENSO response to tropical volcanic eruptions
  • +2
  • Francesco S.R. Pausata,
  • Yang Zhao,
  • Davide Zanchettin,
  • Rodrigo Caballero,
  • David S. Battisti
Francesco S.R. Pausata
University of Quebec in Montreal

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

Author Profile
Yang Zhao
Chinese Academy of Meteorological Sciences
Author Profile
Davide Zanchettin
University Ca'Foscari of Venice
Author Profile
Rodrigo Caballero
Stockholm University
Author Profile
David S. Battisti
University of Washington
Author Profile


Stratospheric volcanic aerosol can have major impacts on global climate. Despite a consensus among studies on an El Niño–like response in the first or second post-eruption year, the mechanisms that trigger a change in the state of El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) following volcanic eruptions are still debated. Here, we shed light on the processes that govern the ENSO response to tropical volcanic eruptions through a series of sensitivity experiments with an Earth System Model where a uniform stratospheric volcanic aerosol loading is imposed over different parts of the tropics. Three tropical mechanisms are tested: the “ocean dynamical thermostat” (ODT); the cooling of the Maritime Continent; and the cooling of tropical northern Africa (NAFR). We find that the NAFR mechanism plays the largest role, while the ODT mechanism is absent in our simulations as La Niña-like rather than El-Niño-like conditions develop following a uniform radiative forcing over the equatorial Pacific.