Climate Dynamics

, Volume 38, Issue 11–12, pp 2593–2612 | Cite as

Delayed ENSO impact on spring precipitation over North/Atlantic European region



The delayed impact of winter sea-surface temperature (SST) anomalies in tropical Pacific on spring precipitation over the North Atlantic/European (NAE) region is examined using both measured and modeled data for the period 1901–2002. In an AMIP-type Atmospheric General Circulation Model (AGCM) ensemble, the observed delayed spring precipitation response in Europe to winter ENSO-related SST anomalies is well reproduced. A series of targeted AGCM/coupled GCM experiments are performed to further investigate the mechanisms for this delayed influence. It is found that late winter ENSO SST anomalies lead to the well-documented Rossby wave train arching from the Pacific into the Atlantic region. A positive (negative) ENSO event leads to a quasi-barotropic trough (ridge) in the North Atlantic region. The resulting wind and cloud changes cause anomalies in the surface heat fluxes that result in negative (positive) SST anomalies in the central North Atlantic and anomalies of the opposite sign further to the south. The SST anomalies persist into spring and the atmospheric response to these anomalies is an extension of the ENSO-induced trough (ridge) into the European region, leading to enhanced (reduced) moisture flux and low-level convergence (divergence) and thus positive (negative) precipitation anomalies. Although the signal is overall relatively weak (correlation coefficients of European spring rainfall with winter ENSO SSTs of about 0.3), a proper representation of the outlined mechanism in seasonal forecasting systems may lead to improved seasonal predictions.


Empirical Orthogonal Function Precipitation Anomaly Atmospheric General Circulation Model ENSO Event Atmospheric Response 
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.



The authors appreciate the suggestion of Mirko Orlić about delayed ENSO impact on precipitation over Europe. We would like to thank three anonymous reviewers for their constructive and helpful comments. This work has been supported by the Ministry of Science, Educational and Sports of the Republic of Croatia (grants No. 119-1193086-1323). Ivana Herceg Bulić also acknowledges support by the European Science Foundation (ESF) activity entitled Mediterranean Climate Variability and Predictability (MedCLIVAR).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Andrija Mohorovičić Geophysical Institute, Department of Geophysics Faculty of Science, University of ZagrebZagrebCroatia
  2. 2.Earth System Physics SectionAbdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical PhysicsTriesteItaly

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