Influence of circulation types on temperature extremes in Europe

  • E. J. M. van den Besselaar
  • A. M. G. Klein Tank
  • G. van der Schrier
Original Paper


The aim of this study is to determine the influence of atmospheric circulation on the recently observed changes in the number of warm days and cold days in Europe. The temperature series for stations in the European Climate Assessment and Data set project and the Grosswetterlagen (GWL) were used here. The temperature series were first adjusted for global warming before determining the indices for cold and warm extremes. The 29 GWLs were grouped in ten circulation types. Then, the number of days a certain circulation type occurred was determined for each winter (December, January and February) and summer (June, July and August). The relation between the circulation type frequencies and the temperature indices was modelled with a multi-regression fit over the period 1947–1974 and tested for the period 1974–2000. The difference between the observed indices and the calculated indices in the second period (using the fit coefficients for the first period) shows a warming effect for both winter and summer and for at least the warm day index, which is unaccounted for by the global warming trend. A simple snow model shows that variations in the European snow cover extent are likely influencing the cold and warm day indices in winter: there is a correlation between the decreasing trend of the snow cover extent in Europe and the increasing (decreasing) trend of the number of warm (cold) days for stations throughout Europe.


Global Warming Temperature Extreme Temperature Series Temperature Index Circulation Type 
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.



We acknowledge the E-Obs data set from the EU-FP6 project ENSEMBLES ( and the data providers in the ECA&D project (


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. J. M. van den Besselaar
    • 1
  • A. M. G. Klein Tank
    • 1
  • G. van der Schrier
    • 1
  1. 1.Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI)De BiltThe Netherlands

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