Revisiting the Agung 1963 volcanic forcing – impact of one or two eruptions

2019 - Atmos. Chem. Phys., 19, 10379–10390,


Niemeier, U.

Additional authors:

Timmreck, C., Krüger, K.




In 1963 a series of eruptions of Mt. Agung, Indonesia, resulted in the third largest eruption of the 20th century and claimed about 1900 lives. Two eruptions of this series injected SO2 into the stratosphere, which can create a long-lasting stratospheric sulfate layer. The estimated mass flux of the first eruption was about twice as large as the mass flux of the second eruption. We followed the estimated emission profiles and assumed for the first eruption on 17 March an injection rate of 4.7 Tg SO2 and 2.3 Tg SO2 for the second eruption on 16 May. The injected sulfur forms a sulfate layer in the stratosphere. The evolution of sulfur is nonlinear and depends on the injection rate and aerosol background conditions. We performed ensembles of two model experiments, one with a single eruption and a second one with two eruptions. The two smaller eruptions result in a lower sulfur burden, smaller aerosol particles, and 0.1 to 0.3 Wm−2 (10 %–20 %) lower radiative forcing in monthly mean global average compared to the individual eruption experiment. The differences are the consequence of slightly stronger meridional transport due to different seasons of the eruptions, lower injection height of the second eruption, and the resulting different aerosol evolution.

Overall, the evolution of the volcanic clouds is different in case of two eruptions than with a single eruption only. The differences between the two experiments are significant. We conclude that there is no justification to use one eruption only and both climatic eruptions should be taken into account in future emission datasets.