Robock said the new research provides evidence that there may be more aerosols in the atmosphere than previously thought. “This is part of the story about what has been driving climate change for the past 15 years,” he said. “It’s the best analysis we’ve had of the effects of a lot of small volcanic eruptions on climate.”
Ridley said he hopes the new data will make their way into climate models and help explain some of the inconsistencies that climate scientists have noted between the models and what is being observed.
Robock cautioned, however, that the ground-based AERONET instruments that the researchers used were developed to measure aerosols in the troposphere, not the stratosphere. To build the best climate models, he said, a more robust monitoring system for stratospheric aerosols will need to be developed.
Details of the Study:
Ridley, D. A., et al. (2014), Total Volcanic Stratospheric Aerosol Optical Depths and Implications for Global Climate Change, Geophysical Research Letters, 41, 7763–7769, doi:10.1002/2014GL061541.