Climate Dynamics

, Volume 51, Issue 3, pp 969–983 | Cite as

Lagged effects of the Mistral wind on heavy precipitation through ocean-atmosphere coupling in the region of Valencia (Spain)

  • Ségolène BerthouEmail author
  • Sylvain Mailler
  • Philippe Drobinski
  • Thomas Arsouze
  • Sophie Bastin
  • Karine Béranger
  • Cindy Lebeaupin Brossier


The region of Valencia in Spain has historically been affected by heavy precipitation events (HPEs). These HPEs are known to be modulated by the sea surface temperature (SST) of the Balearic Sea. Using an atmosphere-ocean regional climate model, we show that more than 70 % of the HPEs in the region of Valencia present a SST cooling larger than the monthly trend in the Northwestern Mediterranean before the HPEs. This is linked to the breaking of a Rossby wave preceding the HPEs: a ridge-trough pattern at mid-levels centered over western France associated with a low-level depression in the Gulf of Genoa precedes the generation of a cut-off low over southern Spain with a surface depression over the Alboran Sea in the lee of the Atlas. This latter situation is favourable to the advection of warm and moist air towards the Mediterranean Spanish coast, possibly leading to HPEs. The depression in the Gulf of Genoa generates intense northerly (Mistral) to northwesterly (Tramontane/Cierzo) winds. In most cases, these intense winds trigger entrainment at the bottom of the oceanic mixed layer which is a mechanism explaining part of the SST cooling in most cases. Our study suggests that the SST cooling due to this strong wind regime then persists until the HPEs and reduces the precipitation intensity.



This work is part of the Med-CORDEX initiative ( supported by the HyMeX programme ( through INSU-MISTRALS support. This research has received funding from the French National Research Agency (ANR) project REMEMBER (contract ANR-12-SENV-001). It was supported by the IPSL group for regional climate and environmental studies, with granted access to the HPC resources of IDRIS (under allocation i2011010227). The authors acknowledge the HyMeX database teams (ESPRI/IPSL and SEDOO/Observatoire Midi-Pyrénés) for their help in accessing the data. We thank the MYOCEAN project for providing the CNR-ISAC-GOS SST product. The authors also thank AEMET and UC for the data provided for this work (Spain02 dataset, The authors are thankful to Robert Jones for correcting the language and to the anonymous reviewers who greatly helped to improve the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ségolène Berthou
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Sylvain Mailler
    • 1
  • Philippe Drobinski
    • 1
  • Thomas Arsouze
    • 1
    • 3
  • Sophie Bastin
    • 4
  • Karine Béranger
    • 1
    • 5
  • Cindy Lebeaupin Brossier
    • 6
  1. 1.IPSL/Laboratoire de Météorologie DynamiqueCNRS, ENPC, ENS, PSL Research University, Ecole polytechnique, Université Paris-Saclay, UPMC Univ Paris 06, Sorbonne UniversitésPalaiseauFrance
  2. 2.Met Office Hadley CentreExeterUnited Kingdom
  3. 3.ENSTA ParisTechUniversité Paris-SaclayPalaiseauFrance
  4. 4.IPSL/Laboratoire ATmosphère, Milieux, Observations SpatialesGuyancourtFrance
  5. 5.LTHEGrenobleFrance
  6. 6.GAME-CNRM, Météo France/CNRSToulouseFrance

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