Past studies have suggested a statistical connection between explosive volcanic eruptions and subsequent El Niño climate events. This connection, however, has remained controversial. Here we present support for a response of the El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phenomenon to forcing from explosive volcanism by using two different palaeoclimate reconstructions of El Niño activity and two independent, proxy-based chronologies of explosive volcanic activity from AD 1649 to the present. We demonstrate a significant, multi-year, El Niño-like response to explosive tropical volcanic forcing over the past several centuries. The results imply roughly a doubling of the probability of an El Niño event occurring in the winter following a volcanic eruption. Our empirical findings shed light on how the tropical Pacific ocean-atmosphere system may respond to exogenous (both natural and anthropogenic) radiative forcing.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes