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The effects of simulating volcanic aerosol radiative feedbacks with WRF-Chem during the Eyjafjallajökull eruption, April and May 2010

Abstract

Explosive volcanic eruptions can inject large amounts of ash and gases into the atmosphere. Such volcanic aerosols can have a significant impact on the surrounding environment, and there is the need to closely investigate their effects on meteorology on local, regional, and even continental scale. This work presents a study of the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull volcanic eruption the resulting ash dispersion and its radiative feedback effects on the meteorological conditions with the Weather Research Forecasting model with on-line Chemistry (WRF-Chem). Two model runs, one meteorology-only simulation (without chemistry) and one that considers gas- and aerosol chemistry as well as direct- and semidirect aerosol feedbacks were performed and compared. Results for daily values show that aerosol radiative feedback effects can cool the atmosphere close to the surface on average by 1 °C with maximum cooling exceeding even 2 °C for the considered episode. Near-surface atmospheric wind speed changed on average by 0.5 m/s with maximum values above 2 m/s. Furthermore, the presence of ash aerosols affected the vertical shape of the profiles of wind speed and temperature and resulted in a better agreement with radiosonde measurements when radiative feedback effects were considered. Although the modeling of the dispersion of volcanic ash clouds is subject to large uncertainties, we have demonstrated that the WRF-Chem model can reproduce observations at surface levels and vertical profiles more realistically when radiative feedback effects are considered in the simulations.

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