Proxy evidence for China's monsoon precipitation response to volcanic aerosols over the past seven centuries

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Abstract

The effect of volcanic aerosols on China's monsoon precipitation over the past 700 years has been studied using two independently compiled histories of volcanism combined with the Monsoon Asia Drought Atlas. For both reconstructions, four categories of eruptions are distinguished based on the character of their Northern Hemisphere (NH) injection; then Superposed Epoch Analysis (SEA) with a 10,000 Monte Carlo resampling procedure is undertaken for each category and also each individual grid. Results show a statistically significant (at 90% confidence level) drying trend over mainland China from year 1 to year 4 after the eruptions, and the more sulfate aerosol that is injected into the NH stratosphere, the more severe this drying trend. In comparison, a minor wetting trend is observed in the years following Southern Hemisphere-only injections. Results from spatial distribution of the SEA show (1) a southward movement of the significant dry areas in eastern China from year 0 to year 2 after volcanic perturbations that are either equal to or double the size of the 1991 Mount Pinatubo eruption (15 T sulfate aerosols in NH) and (2) northeast and northwest China experienced substantial droughts in years 2 to 5. These results are in good agreement with a SEA analysis of the Chinese Historical Drought Disaster Index compiled from historical meteorological records. Our findings illustrate the important role stratospheric aerosols have played in altering China's precipitation during the summer monsoon season and can shed new light on the possible effects that stratospheric geoengineering may have on China's precipitation.

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