Volcanic forcing degrades multiyear-to-decadal prediction skill in the tropical Pacific
Volcanic aerosol forcing can affect global climate, but its role in climate prediction remains poorly understood. We isolate the impact of volcanic eruptions on multiyear-to-decadal climate prediction skill by comparing two suites of initialized decadal hindcasts conducted with and without historical volcanic forcing. Unexpectedly, the inclusion of volcanic forcing in the prediction system significantly degrades the forecast skill of detrended multiyear-to-decadal sea surface temperature (SST) variability in the central-eastern tropical Pacific. The ensemble mean hindcasts produce multiyear-to-decadal tropical Pacific SST cooling in response to large tropical volcanic eruptions through thermodynamic and El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO)–like dynamic processes. However, in observations, these eruptions coincided with tropical Pacific warming, which is well predicted by the no-volcano hindcasts and, hence, is likely related to internal climate variability. Improved model representation of volcanic response and its interaction with internal climate variability is required to advance prediction of tropical Pacific decadal variability and associated global impacts.