Abstract In order to examine the response of the tropical Pacific Walker circulation (PWC) to strong tropical volcanic eruptions (SVEs), we analyzed a three-member long-term simulation performed with HadCM3, and carried out four additional CAM4 experiments. We found that the PWC shows a significant interannual weakening after SVEs. The cooling effect from SVEs is able to cool the entire tropics. However, cooling over the Maritime Continent is stronger than that over the central-eastern tropical Pacific. Thus, non-uniform zonal temperature anomalies can be seen following SVEs. As a result, the sea level pressure gradient between the tropical Pacific and the Maritime Continent is reduced, which weakens trade winds over the tropical Pacific. Therefore, the PWC is weakened during this period. At the same time, due to the cooling subtropical and midlatitude Pacific, the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) and South Pacific convergence zone (SPCZ) are weakened and shift to the equator. These changes also contribute to the weakened PWC. Meanwhile, through the positive Bjerknes feedback, weakened trade winds cause El Niño-like SST anomalies over the tropical Pacific, which in turn further influence the PWC. Therefore, the PWC significantly weakens after SVEs. The CAM4 experiments further confirm the influences from surface cooling over the Maritime Continent and subtropical/midlatitude Pacific on the PWC. Moreover, they indicate that the stronger cooling over the Maritime Continent plays a dominant role in weakening the PWC after SVEs. In the observations, a weakened PWC and a related El Niño-like SST pattern can be found following SVEs.
Just Accepted Date: 18 January 2018