, Volume 23, Issue 7-8, pp 839-858
Date: 10 Aug 2004

Mean, interannual variability and trends in a regional climate change experiment over Europe. II: climate change scenarios (2071–2100)

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We present an analysis of climate change over Europe as simulated by a regional climate model (RCM) nested within time-slice atmospheric general circulation model (AGCM) experiments. Changes in mean and interannual variability are discussed for the 30-year period of 2071–2100 with respect to the present day period of 1961–1990 under forcing from the A2 and B2 IPCC emission scenarios. In both scenarios, the European region undergoes substantial warming in all seasons, in the range of 1–5.5°C, with the warming being 1–2°C lower in the B2 than in the A2 scenario. The spatial patterns of warming are similar in the two scenarios, with a maximum over eastern Europe in winter and over western and southern Europe in summer. The precipitation changes in the two scenarios also show similar spatial patterns. In winter, precipitation increases over most of Europe (except for the southern Mediterranean regions) due to increased storm activity and higher atmospheric water vapor loadings. In summer, a decrease in precipitation is found over most of western and southern Europe in response to a blocking-like anticyclonic circulation over the northeastern Atlantic which deflects summer storms northward. The precipitation changes in the intermediate seasons (spring and fall) are less pronounced than in winter and summer. Overall, the intensity of daily precipitation events predominantly increases, often also in regions where the mean precipitation decreases. Conversely the number of wet days decreases (leading to longer dry periods) except in the winter over western and central Europe. Cloudiness, snow cover and soil water content show predominant decreases, in many cases also in regions where precipitation increases. Interannual variability of both temperature and precipitation increases substantially in the summer and shows only small changes in the other seasons. A number of statistically significant regional trends are found throughout the scenario simulations, especially for temperature and for the A2 scenario. The results from the forcing AGCM simulations and the nested RCM simulations are generally consistent with each other at the broad scale. However, significant differences in the simulated surface climate changes are found between the two models in the summer, when local physics processes are more important. In addition, substantial fine scale detail in the RCM-produced change signal is found in response to local topographical and coastline features.