The volcanic fingerprint on the winter North Atlantic atmospheric circulation and climate is analyzed in six ensemble runs of ECHAM5/MPI-OM covering 800–2000 CE, both for equatorial and Northern Hemisphere (NH) eruptions. Large volcanic eruptions influence climate on both annual and decadal time scales due to dynamic interactions of different climate components in the Earth's system. It is well known that the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) tends to shift towards its positive phase during winter in the first 1–2 years after large tropical volcanic eruptions, causing warming over Europe, but other North Atlantic weather regimes have received less attention. Here we investigate the four dominant weather regimes in the North Atlantic: The negative and positive phase of NAO as well as the Atlantic Ridge, Scandinavian blocking. The volcanic fingerprint is detected as a change in the frequency of occurrence and anomalies in the wind and temperature fields as well as in the sea ice cover. We observe a strong significant increase in the frequency of Atlantic Ridge in the second year after equatorial eruptions that precede the NAO+ detected in year 3–5 as a result of a strong zonal wind anomalies in year 1–2. Evidence for a stronger polar vortex is detected in years 12–14 where NAO+ is detected both as a frequency increase and in the wind and temperature fields. A short-term response is also detected 2–4 years after NH eruptions. The longterm signal after NH eruptions indicate a weak polar vortex around a decade after an eruption. Although the signal after NH eruptions is weaker our results stress the need for further studies. The simulated atmospheric response recorded in ECHAM5 after volcanic eruptions suggest a more dynamic response than previously thought. The methodology used can also be applied to other forcing scenario, for example for future climate projections where the aim is to search for a long-term climate signal.
EPIC Alfred Wegener Institut