A study of NAO variability and its possible non-linear influences on European surface temperature
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The relationship between European winter temperature spatial and temporal modes of variability and the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) has been studied during the period 1852–1997. Temporal modes of variability of the NAO and temperatures are analysed using wavelet transform. Results show that the NAO presents a strong non-stationary behaviour. The most important feature is the existence of a quasi-periodic oscillation, with a period between 6–10 years and maximum amplitude of eight years, during the periods 1842–1868 and 1964–1994. Between 1875 and 1939 the spectra of the NAO is almost white. The possible relationship between the occurrence of extreme events of the NAO and its spectral behaviour has been analysed. The results indicate that quasi-periodic oscillations in the NAO do not lead to more extreme episodes, but rather that an extreme value of the oscillation is more likely to persist for few years. Particularly energetic modes of coherent variability between temperature and NAO are found between 2–6 years for 1857–1879 and 1978–1984, and between 6–10 years from 1961 to 1991. The relationship between the NAO and temperatures as a function of the state of the oscillation has been studied using composites. Empirical evidence has been found suggesting that winter temperatures, in a great part of the study area, do not vary in a linear manner with respect to phase and intensity of the NAO. Regions in the study area differ in sensitivity to changes in the NAO. The spatial patterns of variability of the temperatures are found to be independent of the NAO spectra.
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