Impact of a moderate volcanic eruption on chemistry in the lower stratosphere: balloon-borne observations and model calculations

Abstract : The major volcanic eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991 has been shown to have significant effects on stratospheric chemistry and ozone depletion even at mid-latitudes. Since then, only "moderate" but recurrent volcanic eruptions have modulated the stratospheric aerosol loading such as the eruption of the mid-latitude Sarychev volcano which injected 0.9 Tg of sulfur dioxide (about 20 times less than Pinatubo) in June 2009. In this study, we investigate the chemical impacts of the enhanced liquid sulfate aerosol loading resulting from this moderate eruption using data from a balloon campaign conducted in northern Sweden (Kiruna-Esrange, 67.5° N, 21.0° E) in August-September 2009. Balloon-borne observations of NO2, HNO3 and BrO from infrared and UV-visible spectrometers are compared with the outputs of a three-dimensional (3-D) Chemistry-Transport Model (CTM). It is shown that differences between observations and model outputs are not due to transport calculation issues but rather reflect the chemical impact of the volcanic plume below 19 km in altitude. Good measurement-model agreement is obtained when the CTM is driven by volcanic aerosol loadings derived from in situ or space-borne data. As a result of enhanced N2O5 hydrolysis in the Sarychev volcanic aerosol conditions, the model calculates reductions of ~ 45 % and increases of ~ 11 % in NO2 and HNO3 amounts respectively over the summer 2009 period. The decrease in NOx abundances is limited due to the expected saturation effect for high aerosol loadings. The links between the various chemical catalytic cycles involving chlorine, bromine, nitrogen and HOx compounds in the lower stratosphere are discussed. The increased BrO amounts (~ 22 %) compare rather well with the balloon-borne observations when volcanic aerosol levels are accounted for in the CTM and appear to be mainly controlled by the coupling with nitrogen chemistry rather than by enhanced BrONO2 hydrolysis. Simulated effects of the Sarychev eruption on chlorine activation and partitioning are very limited in the high temperature conditions in the stratosphere at the period considered, inhibiting the effect of ClONO2 hydrolysis. As a consequence, the simulated ozone loss due to the Sarychev aerosols is low with a reduction of 1.1 % of the ozone budget at 16.5 km. Some comparisons with the reported Pinatubo chemical impacts are also provided and overall the Sarychev aerosols have led to less chemical effects than the Pinatubo event.
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Gwenaël Berthet, Fabrice Jégou, Valéry Catoire, Gisèle Krysztofiak, Jean-Baptiste Renard, et al.. Impact of a moderate volcanic eruption on chemistry in the lower stratosphere: balloon-borne observations and model calculations. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, European Geosciences Union, 2017, 17 (3), pp.2229-2253. ⟨10.5194/acp-17-2229-2017⟩. ⟨insu-01367008⟩

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