, Volume 48, Issue 1, pp 219-241

Zonal Indices for Europe 1780–1995 and Running Correlations with Temperature

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Zonal circulation indices with monthly and seasonal resolutions are calculated based on gridded monthly mean sea-level pressure (SLP) reconstructed back to 1780 by Jones et al. (1999): an overall zonal index for the whole European area between 30°W and 40°E, a normalized index for the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), and a similar index for Central Europe. For most of the early time up to the mid-nineteenth century we get preferred negative anomalies in the NAO index for winter and preferred positive ones for summer. The turning points in cumulative anomalies - during the 1850s for winter and during the 1870s for summer - indicate a transition period in circulation modes from the "Little Ice Age" to the recent climate in Europe. Running correlations (time windows of 21 years with time steps of one year) between zonal indices and regional temperature time series from Central England, Stockholm and two Central European regions are all indicating major instationarities in these relationships with a particular decline in winter correlations around the turn from the nineteenth to the twentieth centuries. Aspects of different circulation patterns linked with these variabilities are discussed.