Article

Climate Dynamics

, Volume 25, Issue 7, pp 837-849

First online:

A scenario of European climate change for the late twenty-first century: seasonal means and interannual variability

  • David P. RowellAffiliated withMet Office, Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research Email author 

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Abstract

A scenario of European climate change for the late twenty-first century is described, using a high-resolution state-of-the-art model. A time-slice approach is used, whereby the atmospheric general circulation model, HadAM3P, was integrated for two periods, 1960–1990 and 2070–2100, using the SRES A2 scenario. For the first time an ensemble of such experiments was produced, along with appropriate statistical tests for assessing significance. The focus is on changes to the statistics of seasonal means, and includes analysis of both multi-year means and interannual variance. All four seasons are assessed, and anomalies are mapped for surface air temperature, precipitation and snow mass. Mechanisms are proposed where these are dominated by straightforward local processes. In winter, the largest warming occurs over eastern Europe, up to 7°C, mean snow mass is reduced by at least 80% except over Scandinavia, and precipitation increases over all but the southernmost parts of Europe. In summer, temperatures rise by 6–9°C south of about 50°N, and mean rainfall is substantially reduced over the same area. In spring and autumn, anomalies tend to be weaker, but often display patterns similar to the preceding season, reflecting the inertia of the land surface component of the climate system. Changes in interannual variance are substantial in the solsticial seasons for many regions (note that for precipitation, variance estimates are scaled by the square of the mean). In winter, interannual variability of near-surface air temperature is considerably reduced over much of Europe, and the relative variability of precipitation is reduced north of about 50°N. In summer, the (relative) interannual variance of both variables increases over much of the continent.