, Volume 36, Issue 5-6, pp 957-972
Date: 19 Jan 2010

Multidecadal changes in winter circulation-climate relationship in Europe: frequency variations, within-type modifications, and long-term trends

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Abstract

Using pressure fields classified by the SANDRA algorithm, this study investigates the changes in the relationship between North Atlantic/European sea level pressure (SLP) and gridded European winter (DJF) temperature and precipitation back to 1750. Important changes in the frequency of the SLP clusters are found, though none of them indicating significant long-term trends. However, for the majority of the SLP clusters a tendency toward overall warmer and partly wetter winter conditions is found, most pronounced over the last decades. This suggests important within-type variations, i.e. the temperature and precipitation fields related to a particular SLP pattern change their characteristics over time. Using a decomposition scheme we find for temperature and precipitation that within-type-related variations dominate over those due to changed frequencies of the SLP clusters: Approximately 70% (60%) of European winter temperature (precipitation) variations can be explained by within-type changes, most strongly expressed over Eastern Europe and Scandinavia. This indicates that the current European winter warming cannot be explained by changed frequencies of the SLP patterns alone, but to a larger degree by changed characteristics of the patterns themselves. Potential sources of within-type variations are discussed.