European summer climate variability in a heterogeneous multi-model ensemble
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- Vidale, P.L., Lüthi, D., Wegmann, R. et al. Climatic Change (2007) 81(Suppl 1): 209. doi:10.1007/s10584-006-9218-z
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Recent results from an enhanced greenhouse-gas scenario over Europe suggest that climate change might not only imply a general mean warming at the surface, but also a pronounced increase in interannual surface temperature variability during the summer season (Schär et al., Nature 427:332–336, 2004). It has been proposed that the underlying physical mechanism is related to land surface-atmosphere interactions. In this study we expand the previous analysis by including results from a heterogeneous ensemble of 11 high-resolution climate models from the PRUDENCE project. All simulations considered comprise 30-year control and enhanced greenhouse-gas scenario periods. While there is considerable spread in the models’ ability to represent the observed summer variability, all models show some increase in variability for the scenario period, confirming the main result of the previous study. Averaged over a large-scale Central European domain, the models simulate an increase in the standard deviation of summer mean temperatures between 20 and 80%. The amplification occurs predominantly over land points and is particularly pronounced for surface temperature, but also evident for precipitation. It is also found that the simulated changes in Central European summer conditions are characterized by an emergence of dry and warm years, with early and intensified depletion of root-zone soil moisture. There is thus some evidence that the change in variability may be linked to the dynamics of soil-moisture storage and the associated feedbacks on the surface energy balance and precipitation.