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The influence of oceanic conditions on the hot European summer of 2003

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The summer of 2003 was the hottest on record throughout much of Europe. Understanding how the event developed and the factors that contributed to it may help us improve seasonal forecasting models and assess the risk of such events in the future. This study uses atmosphere-only model integrations and observed data to investigate the potential predictability of the climate anomalies, and in particular the impact that the warming in the Indian Ocean and Mediterranean Sea had on the development of the temperature anomalies. The model results suggest that the temperature anomalies were potentially predictable and that both Indian Ocean and Mediterranean sea surface temperature anomalies contributed to the development of the observed warm and dry anomalies over Europe. Furthermore, it was found that, in the model, the Mediterranean anomalies contributed most strongly to the warming in June and July and the Indian Ocean anomalies enabled the positive temperature anomalies to persist into August. Previously published work has described the role of the Indian monsoon in modulating the seasonal cycle in rainfall over Europe. Comparison with this work suggests a mechanism by which warming in the Indian Ocean may have contributed to the persistence of the temperature and precipitation anomalies into August.

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Emily Black is funded under the NERC COAPEC programme. Rowan Sutton is funded by a Royal Society University Fellowship. The authors are grateful to Mark Rodwell for helping with the preparation of one of the figures. This work benefited greatly from discussion within the CGAM Atlantic and European climate group, at several conferences, and from the comments of two anonymous reviewers.

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Correspondence to Emily Black.

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Black, E., Sutton, R. The influence of oceanic conditions on the hot European summer of 2003. Clim Dyn 28, 53–66 (2007).

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