Theoretical and Applied Climatology

, Volume 87, Issue 1, pp 85–102

European winter precipitation extremes and large-scale circulation: a coupled model and its scenarios

  • J. A. Santos
  • J. Corte-Real
  • U. Ulbrich
  • J. Palutikof
Article

DOI: 10.1007/s00704-005-0224-2

Cite this article as:
Santos, J., Corte-Real, J., Ulbrich, U. et al. Theor. Appl. Climatol. (2007) 87: 85. doi:10.1007/s00704-005-0224-2
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Summary

The physical coupling between the occurrence of winter heavy precipitation in Europe and the surface large-scale circulation is studied by isolating their coupled modes with a singular value decomposition technique. The leading mode is a clear manifestation of the North Atlantic Oscillation forcing. The second mode reflects the influence of a centre-of-action in the pressure field westward of the British Isles. The Hadley Centre Coupled Model (3rd generation) is skilful in reproducing these two modes and an eastward extension of the North Atlantic Oscillation towards the Mediterranean Basin is projected under two future climatic scenarios. This extension yields an increase in the North Atlantic Oscillation forcing over the occurrence of heavy precipitation in several regions of Southern Europe, which is corroborated by the changes in the coupling of the daily precipitation. A combination of the first six coupled modes of the daily precipitation revealed that its amounts in some parts of Western Europe and the Mediterranean are effectively governed by the large-scale circulation. The model is still reasonably skilful in reproducing this large-scale coupling. The projected modifications, both in the strength and in the patterns of the coupled modes, explain important fractions of the projected changes in variance, which ultimately have implications in the occurrence of heavy precipitation in several European areas. Therefore, the ability of a model in reproducing the large-scale forcing over the daily precipitation is important for the reliability of its projections of the occurrence of heavy precipitation in Europe.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. A. Santos
    • 1
    • 3
  • J. Corte-Real
    • 1
    • 2
  • U. Ulbrich
    • 4
  • J. Palutikof
    • 5
  1. 1.Centro de Geofísica, Colégio Luís António Verney, Departamento de FísicaUniversidade de ÉvoraÉvoraPortugal
  2. 2.Instituto de Ciência Aplicada e TecnologiaUniversidade de LisboaCampo GrandePortugal
  3. 3.Departamento de FísicaUniversidade de Trás-os-Montes e Alto DouroQuinta dos PradosPortugal
  4. 4.Institut für MeteorologieFreie UniversitätBerlinGermany
  5. 5.Met OfficeExeterUK

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