The role of volcanic activity in climate and global changes

Georgiy Stenchikov*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Explosive volcanic eruptions are magnificent events that in many ways affect the Earth’s natural processes and climate. They cause sporadic perturbations of the planet’s energy balance, activating complex climate feedbacks and providing unique opportunities to better quantify those processes. We know that explosive eruptions cause cooling in the atmosphere for a few years, but we have just recently realized that they affect the major climate variability modes and volcanic signals can be seen in the subsurface ocean for decades. The volcanic forcing of the previous two centuries offsets the ocean heat uptake and diminishes global warming by about 30%. In the future, the explosive volcanism could slightly delay the pace of global warming and has to be accounted for in long-term climate predictions. The recent interest in dynamic, microphysical, chemical, and climate impacts of volcanic eruptions is also excited by the fact that these impacts provide a natural analog for climate geoengineering schemes involving deliberate development of an artificial aerosol layer in the lower stratosphere to counteract global warming. In this chapter, we aim at discussing these recently discovered volcanic effects and specifically pay attention to how we can learn about the hidden Earth system mechanisms activated by explosive volcanic eruptions. To demonstrate these effects, we use our own model results when possible along with available observations, as well as review closely related recent publications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationClimate Change
Subtitle of host publicationObserved Impacts on Planet Earth, Third Edition
Number of pages37
ISBN (Electronic)9780128215753
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


  • Aerosol loading
  • Ocean heat content
  • Radiative effect
  • Spatial distribution
  • Stratospheric warming
  • Tropospheric cooling
  • Volcanoes and climate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science


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