June 2017, new Nature article: ‘Strong constraints on aerosol–cloud interactions from volcanic eruptions’

Wednesday, June 28th, 2017

Recent research on aerosol-cloud interactions from volcanic eruptions will reduce uncertainty in climate model projections.

An international team of climate scientists, including SMURPHS partners Reading and Leeds, studied the effects that the 2014-15 eruption at Holuhraun in Iceland had on cloud formations in the surrounding region, using this prolonged event to study how tiny aerosol particles in the atmosphere affect climate. The sulphurous plume, which mimics aerosol particulate pollution from industrial activities, was found to make low altitude clouds brighter, reflecting more sunlight back to space. This leads to a cooling influence on climate, confirming previous studies. However, results show that further effects on the extent and thickness of cloud were not detected indicating that these indirect effects are small. This research is important for understanding and predicting climate change. Rejecting climate simulations which display excessive indirect effects of aerosol particles on cloud cover will increase certainty in predictions of how much the planet will warm this century in response to continued human-caused emissions of greenhouse gases.

Nature article: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v546/n7659/full/nature22974.html

University of Reading Press Release: http://www.reading.ac.uk/news-and-events/releases/PR730212.aspx