Volcanic stratospheric sulfur injections and aerosol optical depth during the Holocene (past 11 500 years) from a bipolar ice-core array
Earth System Science Data
Abstract. The injection of sulfur into the stratosphere by volcanic eruptions is the dominant driver of natural climate variability on interannual to multidecadal timescales. Based on a set of continuous sulfate and sulfur records from a suite of ice cores from Greenland and Antarctica, the HolVol v.1.0 database includes estimates of the magnitudes and approximate source latitudes of major volcanic stratospheric sulfur injection (VSSI) events for the Holocene (from 9500 BCE or 11 500 years BP
... 1900 CE), constituting an extension of the previous record by 7000 years. The database incorporates new-generation ice-core aerosol records with a sub-annual temporal resolution and a demonstrated sub-decadal dating accuracy and precision. By tightly aligning and stacking the ice-core records on the WD2014 chronology from Antarctica, we resolve long-standing inconsistencies in the dating of ancient volcanic eruptions that arise from biased (i.e., dated too old) ice-core chronologies over the Holocene for Greenland. We reconstruct a total of 850 volcanic eruptions with injections in excess of 1 teragram of sulfur (Tg S); of these eruptions, 329 (39 %) are located in the low latitudes with bipolar sulfate deposition, 426 (50 %) are located in the Northern Hemisphere extratropics (NHET) and 88 (10 %) are located in the Southern Hemisphere extratropics (SHET). The spatial distribution of the reconstructed eruption locations is in agreement with prior reconstructions for the past 2500 years. In total, these eruptions injected 7410 Tg S into the stratosphere: 70 % from tropical eruptions and 25 % from NH extratropical eruptions. A long-term latitudinally and monthly resolved stratospheric aerosol optical depth (SAOD) time series is reconstructed from the HolVol VSSI estimates, representing the first Holocene-scale reconstruction constrained by Greenland and Antarctica ice cores. These new long-term reconstructions of past VSSI and SAOD variability confirm evidence from regional volcanic eruption chronologies (e.g., from Iceland) in showing that the Early Holocene (9500–7000 BCE) experienced a higher number of volcanic eruptions (+16 %) and cumulative VSSI (+86 %) compared with the past 2500 years. This increase coincides with the rapid retreat of ice sheets during deglaciation, providing context for potential future increases in volcanic activity in regions under projected glacier melting in the 21st century. The reconstructed VSSI and SAOD data are available at https://doi.org/10.1594/PANGAEA.928646 (Sigl et al., 2021).