Letter abstract

Nature Geoscience 2, 51 - 56 (2009)
Published online: 21 December 2008 | doi:10.1038/ngeo393

The impact of volcanic forcing on tropical temperatures during the past four centuries

Rosanne D'Arrigo1, Rob Wilson1,2 & Alexander Tudhope3


Palaeoclimate records have demonstrated links between high-latitude climate changes and tropical as well as high-latitude volcanic activity1, 2, 3, 4, 5. However, little is known about the impact of high-or low-latitude volcanic eruptions on tropical climate, particularly for the period preceding the instrumental record6, 7, 8, 9. Here we use annually resolved temperature-related records from corals, tree rings and ice cores to investigate the relationship between volcanism and low-latitude climate. Over the past 450 years, we find an association between low-latitude volcanic events and lower sea surface temperatures in the tropical oceans. The longest sustained cold period in recent centuries occurred in the early nineteenth century, following the eruption of Tambora and a second, unidentified but presumably tropical1, volcano. We therefore conclude that the tropical ocean–atmosphere system has been sensitive to changes in radiative forcing caused by tropical volcanism over the past several centuries.

  1. Tree-Ring Laboratory, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, 61 Route 9W Palisades, New York 10964, USA
  2. School of Geography & Geosciences, University of St Andrews, St. Andrews KY16 9AL, UK
  3. School of Geosciences, Grant Institute, University of Edinburgh, West Mains Road, Edinburgh EH9 3JW, UK

Correspondence to: Rosanne D'Arrigo1 e-mail: rdd@ldeo.columbia.edu


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