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Volcanic and ENSO effects in China in simulations and reconstructions: Tambora eruption 1815

Author(s): D. Zhang | R. Blender | K. Fraedrich

Journal: Climate of the Past Discussions
ISSN 1814-9340

Volume: 7;
Issue: 3;
Start page: 2061;
Date: 2011;
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The co-operative effects of volcanic eruptions and ENSO (El Niño/Southern Oscillation) on the climate in China are analyzed in a millennium simulation for 800–2005 AD using the earth system model (ESM) ECHAM5/MPIOM/JSBACH subject to anthropogenic and natural forcings. The experiment includes two ensembles with weak (5 members) and strong (3 members) total solar irradiance variability. In the absence of El Niño and La Niña events, volcanoes, which are the dominant forcing in both ensembles, cause a dramatic cooling in West China (−2 °C) and a drought in East China during the year after the eruption. The recovery times for the volcano induced cooling vary globally between one and 12 yr; in China these values are mostly within 1–4 yr, but reach 10 yr in the Northeast. Without volcanoes, after El Niño events the summer precipitation is reduced in the North, while South China becomes wetter (indicated by the Standardized Precipitation Index, SPI, for summers, JJA); La Niña events cause opposite effects. El Niño events in the winters after eruptions compensate the cooling in most regions of China, while La Niña events intensify the cooling (up to −2.5 °C). The simulated impact of the eruption of the Tambora in 1815, which caused the "year without summer" 1816 in Europe and North America and coldness and famines for several years in the Chinese province Yunnan, depends crucially on the ENSO state of the coupled model. A comparison with reconstructed El Niño events shows a moderate cool climate with wet (in the South) and extreme dry anomalies (in the North) persisting for several years.
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