Atlantic Hurricane Activity Following two Major Volcanic Eruptions

In 1982 and 1991, two major volcanic eruptions loaded the stratosphere with long-lived sulfate aerosols, altering the global climate by redistributing longwave and shortwave radiation at the surface and throughout the atmosphere, cooling the surface and subsurface waters of the tropical oceans. Theory and observations demonstrate, through direct and indirect mechanisms, a causal relationship between tropical North Atlantic sea surface temperatures and seasonal Atlantic hurricane frequency, duration, and intensity. Therefore, it is plausible that hurricane activity in the seasons immediately following these eruptions is diminished. However, to date, such a theory remains untested. Here I use observations, reanalysis data, and output from a numerical model to suggest that the number, duration, and intensity of hurricanes in the years following the eruptions of El Chichón (1982) and Mount Pinatubo (1991) decreased via the aerosol direct effect. Determining the effects of each eruption on seasonal cyclone activity is complicated by simultaneous positive ENSO events; thus further study of the relationship between Atlantic tropical cyclones and major volcanic eruptions is warranted.

Evan, A. T. (2012) Atlantic hurricane activity following two major volcanic eruptions, J. Geophys. Res., 117, D06101, doi:10.1029/2011JD016716.