, Volume 42, Issue 1, pp 151-181

Progress in the Study of Climatic Extremes in Northern and Central Europe

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A study of the long-term changes of various climatic extremes was made jointly by a number of European countries. It was found that the changes in maximum and minimum temperatures follow, in broad terms, the corresponding well-documented mean temperature changes. Minimum temperatures, however, have increased slightly more than maximum temperatures, although both have increased. As a result, the study confirms that the diurnal temperature range has mostly decreased during the present century in Northern and Central Europe. Frost has become less frequent. Two extreme-related precipitation characteristics, the annual maximum daily precipitation and the number of days with precipitation ≥ 10 mm, show no major trends or changes in their interannual variability. An analysis of return periods indicated that in the Nordic countries there were high frequencies of ‘extraordinary’ 1-day rainfalls both in the 1930s and since the 1980s. There have been no long-term changes in the number of high wind speeds in the German Bight. Occurrences of thunderstorms and hails show a decreasing tendency in the Czech Republic during the last 50 years. Finally, using proxy data sources, a 500-year temperature and precipitation event graph for the Swiss Mittelland is presented. It shows large interdecadal variations as well as the exceptionality of the latest decade 1986-1995.