Climate Dynamics

, Volume 25, Issue 7–8, pp 837–849 | Cite as

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

  • David P. RowellEmail author


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.


Interannual Variability Ensemble Member Atmospheric General Circulation Model Snow Mass European Climate Change 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Discussions with Richard Jones have been much appreciated, and particular thanks is due to David Hassell for running the model. Financial support was provided by the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs under contract PECD 7/12/37, and by the European Union Programme Energy, Environment and Sustainable Development under contract EVK2-CT-2001-00132 (PRUDENCE).


  1. Allen MR, Ingram WJ (2002) Constraints on future changes in climate and the hydrological cycle. Nature 419:224–232CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Boer GJ, Flato G, Ramsden D (2000) A transient climate change simulation with greenhouse gas and aerosol forcing: projected climate change to the twenty-first century. Clim Dyn 16:427–450CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Christensen JH, Christensen OB (2003) Severe summer flooding in Europe. Nature 421:805–806CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Christensen JH, Carter T, Giorgi F (2002) PRUDENCE employs new methods to assess European climate change. EOS 83:147CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cubasch U, Waszkewitz J, Hegerl G, Perlwitz J (1995) Regional climate changes as simulated in time-slice experiments. Clim Change 31:273–304CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cubasch U, Meehl GA, Boer GJ, Stouffer RJ, Dix M, Noda A, Senior CA, Raper SCB, Yap KS (2001) Projections of future climate change. In: Houghton JT, Ding Y, Griggs DJ, Noguer M, van der Linden P, Dai X, Maskell K, Johnson CI (eds) Climate change 2001: the scientific basis. Contribution of working group I to the third assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 525–582Google Scholar
  7. Davey MK, Huddleston M, Sperber KR, Braconnot P, Bryan F, Chen D, Colman RA, Cooper C, Cubasch U, Delecluse P, DeWitt D, Fairhead L, Flato G, Gordon C, Hogan T, Ji M, Kimoto M, Kitoh A, Knutson TR, Latif M, Le Treut H, Li T, Manabe S, Mechoso CR, Meehl GA, Power SB, Roeckner E, Terray L, Vintzileos A, Voss R, Wang B, Washington WM, Yoshikawa I, Yu J-Y, Yukimoto S, Zebiak SE (2002) STOIC: a study of coupled model climatology and variability in tropical ocean regions. Clim Dyn 18:403–420CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Déqué M, Piedelievre JP (1995) High resolution climate simulation over Europe. Clim Dyn 17:321–339CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Déqué M, Marquet P, Jones RG (1998) Simulation of climate change over Europe using a global variable resolution general circulation model. Clim Dyn 14:173–189CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Déqué M, Rowell DP, Luthi D, Giorgi F, Christensen JH, Rockel B, Jacob D, Kjellström E, de Castro M, van den Hurk B (2005) An intercomparison of regional climate simulations for Europe: assessing uncertainties in model projections. Clim Change (submitted)Google Scholar
  11. Douville H, Chauvin F, Planton S, Royer J-F, Salas-Melia D, Tyteca S (2002) Sensitivity of the hydrological cycle to increasing amounts of greenhouse gases and aerosols. Clim Dyn 20:45–68CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Duffy PB, Govindasamy B, Iorio JP, Milovich J, Sperber KR, Taylor KE, Wehner MF, Thompson SL (2003) High-resolution simulations of global climate, part 1: present climate. Clim Dyn 21:371–390CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Durman CF, Gregory JM, Hassell DC, Jones RG, Murphy JM (2001) A comparison of extreme European daily precipitation simulated by a global and a regional climate model for present and future climates. Q J R Meteorol Soc 127:1005–1015CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Giorgi F, Francisco R (2000) Evaluating uncertainties in the prediction of regional climate change. Geophys Res Lett 27:1295–1298CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Giorgi F, Hewitson B, Christensen J, Fu C, Jones R, Hulme M, Mearns L, von Storch H, Whetton P (2001) Regional climate information - evaluation and projections. In: Houghton JT, Ding Y, Griggs DJ, Noguer M, van der Linden P, Dai X, Maskell K, Johnson CI (eds) Climate change 2001: the scientific basis. Contribution of working group I to the third assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 583–638Google Scholar
  16. Giorgi F, Bi X, Pal JS (2004) Mean, interannual variability and trends in a regional climate change experiment over Europe. II: climate change scenarios (2071–2100). Clim Dyn 23:839–858CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Gordon C, Cooper C, Senior CA, Banks H, Gregory JM, Johns TC, Mitchell JFB, Wood RA (2000) The simulation of SST, sea ice extents and ocean heat transports in a version of the Hadley Centre coupled model without flux adjustments. Clim Dyn 16:147–168CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Govinasamy B, Duffy PB, Coquard J (2003) High-resolution simulations of global climate, part 2: effects of increased greenhouse cases. Clim Dyn 21:391–404CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Gregory JM, Mitchell JFB, Brady AJ (1997) Summer drought in northern midlatitudes in a time-dependent CO2 climate experiment. J Clim 10:662–686CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hudson DA, Jones RG (2002) Simulations of present-day and future climate over southern Africa using HadAM3H. Hadley Centre Technical Note 38, Met Office, Exeter, UKGoogle Scholar
  21. Hulme M, Jenkins GJ, Lu X, Turnpenny JR, Mitchell TD, Jones RG, Lowe J, Murphy JM, Hassell D, Boorman P, Macdonald R, Hill S (2002) Climate-change scenarios for the United Kingdom: The UKCIP02 scientific report. Tyndall Centre, University of East Anglia, NorwichGoogle Scholar
  22. Johns TC, Gregory JM, Ingram WJ, Johnson CE, Jones A, Lowe JA, Mitchell JFB, Roberts DL, Sexton DMH, Stevenson DS, Tett SFB, Woodage MJ (2003) Anthropogenic climate change for 1860 to 2100 simulated with the HadCM3 model under updated emissions scenarios. Clim Dyn 20:583–612Google Scholar
  23. Jones RG, Murphy JM, Noguer M, Keen AB (1997) Simulation of climate change over Europe using a nested regional climate model. Part II. Comparison of driving and regional model responses to a doubling of carbon dioxide. Q J R Meteorol Soc 123:265–292CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Jones RG, Murphy JM, Hassell DC, Woodage MJ (2005) A high resolution atmospheric GCM for the generation of regional climate scenarios. Hadley Centre Technical Note 63, Met Office, ExeterGoogle Scholar
  25. Kjellström E, Döscher R, Meier HEM (2005) Atmospheric response to different sea surface temperatures in the Baltic Sea: coupled versus uncoupled regional climate model experiments. Nordic Hydrol (in press)Google Scholar
  26. Lenderink G, van Ulden A, van den Hurk B, van Meijgaard E (2005) Summertime inter-annual temperature variability in an ensemble of regional model simulations: analysis of the surface energy budget. Clim Change (submitted)Google Scholar
  27. Manabe S, Wetherald RT (1975) The effects of doubling the CO2 concentration on the climate of a general circulation model. J Atmos Sci 32:3–15CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. May W (2001) Impact of horizontal resolution on the simulation of seasonal climate in the Atlantic/European area for present and future times. Clim Res 16:203–223CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. May W, Roeckner E (2001) A time-slice experiment with the ECHAM4 AGCM at high resolution: the impact of horizontal resolution on annual mean climate change. Clim Dyn 17:407–420CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Merkel U, Latif M (2002) A high resolution AGCM study of the El Nino impact on the North Atlantic/European sector. Geophys Res Lett 29. DOI 10.1029/2001GL013726Google Scholar
  31. Mitchell TD (2003) Pattern scaling. Clim Change 60:217–242CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Mitchell JFB, Johns TC, Eagles M, Ingram WJ, Davis RA (1999) Towards the construction of climate change scenarios. Clim Change 41:547–581CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Murphy JM (2000) Predictions of climate change over Europe using statistical and dynamical downscaling techniques. Int J Climatol 20:489–501CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Murphy JM, Sexton DMH, Barnett DN, Jones GS, Webb MJ, Collins M, Stainforth DA (2004) Quantification of modelling uncertainties in a large ensemble of climate change simulations. Nature 430:768–772CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  35. Nakicenovic N, Alcamo J, Davis G, de Vries B, Fenhann J, Gaffin S, Gregory K, Grubler A, Jung TY, Kram T, La Rovere EL, Michaelis L, Mori S, Morita T, Pepper W, Pitcher H, Price L, Riahi K, Roehrl A, Rogner H-H, Sankovski A, Schlesinger M, Shukla P, Smith S, Swart R, van Rooijen S, Victor N, Dadi Z (2000) Special report on emissions scenarios. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, p 599Google Scholar
  36. Pope VD, Gallani ML, Rowntree PR, Stratton RA (2000) The impact of new physical parametrizations in the Hadley Centre climate model—HadAM3. Clim Dyn 16:123–146CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Raisanen J (2002) CO2-induced changes in interannual temperature and precipitation variability in 19 CMIP2 experiments. J Clim 15:2395–2411CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Raisanen J, Hansson U, Ullerstig A, Doscher R, Graham LP, Jones C, Meier HEM, Samuelsson P, Willen U (2004) European climate in the late twenty-first century: regional simulations with two driving global models and two forcing scenarios. Clim Dyn 22:13–31CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Rayner NA, Parker DE, Horton EB, Folland CK, Alexander LV, Rowell DP, Kent EC, Kaplan A (2003) Global analyses of sea surface temperature, sea ice, and night marine air temperature since the late nineteenth century. J Geophys Res 108(D14):4407. DOI 10.1029/2002JD002670Google Scholar
  40. Rowell DP (1998) Assessing potential seasonal predictability with an ensemble of multi-decadal GCM simulations. J Clim 11:109–120CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Rowell DP (2005) Uncertainty in projections of UK climate change resulting from regional model formulation. Clim Change (submitted)Google Scholar
  42. Rowell DP, Folland CK, Maskell K, Ward MN (1995) Variability of summer rainfall over Tropical North Africa (1906–92): Observations and modelling. Q J R Meteorol Soc 121:669–704CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Stainforth DA, Aina T, Christensen C, Collins M, Faull N, Frame DJ, Kettleborough JA, Knight S, Martin A, Murphy JM, Piani C, Sexton D, Smith LA, Spicer RA, Thorpe AJ, Allen MR (2005) Uncertainty in predictions of the climate response to rising levels of greenhouse gases. Nature 433:403–406CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  44. von Storch H, Zwiers FW (1999) Statistical analysis in climate research. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, p 484Google Scholar
  45. Tebaldi C, Smith R, Nychka D, Mearns LO (2005) Quantifying uncertainty in projections of regional climate change: a Bayesian approach to the analysis of multimodel ensembles. J Clim 18:1524–1540CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Wetherald RT, Manabe S (1995) The mechanisms of summer dryness induced by greenhouse warming. J Clim 8:3096–3108CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Wilks DS (1995) Statistical methods in the atmospheric sciences. Academic, San Diego, p 467Google Scholar
  48. Yang F, Kumar A, Wang W, Juang H-MH, Kanamitsu M (2001) Snow-Albedo feedback and seasonal climate variability over North America. J Clim 14:4245–4248CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Met OfficeHadley Centre for Climate Prediction and ResearchExeterUK

Personalised recommendations