Injection of gases into the stratosphere by explosive volcanic eruptions

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Abstract

[1] Explosive eruptions can inject large amounts of volcanic gases into the stratosphere. These gases may be scavenged by hydrometeors within the eruption column, and high uncertainties remain regarding the proportion of volcanic gases, which eventually reach the stratosphere. These are caused by the difficulties of directly sampling explosive volcanic eruption columns and by the lack of laboratory studies in the extreme parameter regime characterizing them. Using the nonhydrostatic nonsteady state plume model Active Tracer High Resolution Atmospheric Model (ATHAM), we simulated an explosive volcanic eruption. We examined the scavenging efficiency for the climatically relevant gases within the eruption column. The low concentration of water in the plume results in the formation of relatively dry aggregates. More than 99% of these are frozen because of their fast ascent to low-temperature regions. Consideration of the salinity effect increases the amount of liquid water by one order of magnitude, but the ice phase is still highly dominant. Consequently, the scavenging efficiency for HCl is very low, and only 1% is dissolved in liquid water. However, scavenging by ice particles via direct gas incorporation during diffusional growth is a significant process. The salinity effect increases the total scavenging efficiency for HCl from about 50% to about 90%. The sulfur-containing gases SO2 and H2S are only slightly soluble in liquid water; however, these gases are incorporated into ice particles with an efficiency of 10 to 30%. Despite scavenging, more than 25% of the HCl and 80% of the sulfur gases reach the stratosphere because most of the particles containing these species are lifted there. Sedimentation of the particles would remove the volcanic gases from the stratosphere. Hence the final quantity of volcanic gases injected in a particular eruption depends on the fate of the particles containing them, which is in turn dependent on the volcanic and environmental conditions.

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