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Asymmetry of day-to-day temperature changes and its causes

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Previous studies indicate that the temperature changes from a day to the following day are not normally distributed either in winter or in summer. However, this study is the first to investigate the causes of the asymmetry in these temperature changes. We hypothesised that the asymmetries are driven by the passages of atmospheric fronts and by the radiative processes during anticyclonic circulation conditions. We used the maximum and minimum temperatures observed at the Praha-Karlov station, the records of front passages, and 7 different catalogues of circulation types over central Europe. We demonstrated that the asymmetries in the large temperature changes (5 °C and larger) were related to the passages of all three front types in winter and to the passages of cold fronts in summer. The asymmetries in the slight temperature changes (up to 3 °C) were mainly caused by cold advection from the north and the northeast in winter and by warm advection from the south, the southeast, and the east in summer. We suppose that our results can be generalized; that is, the passages of atmospheric fronts and cold/warm advection are the likely causes of the asymmetries of the day-to-day temperature changes elsewhere in Europe. The presented findings can be applied as a tool for the validation of climate model outputs.

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We acknowledge the data providers the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute, the COST733 project ‘Harmonisation and Applications of Weather Type Classifications for European regions’ and the subjective Hess-Brezowsky catalogue of synoptic situations ‘Grosswetterlagen’.


This study was supported by the Grant Agency of the Charles University, project 426216, and by the Czech Science Foundation, project 17-07043S.

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Correspondence to Vladimír Piskala.

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Piskala, V., Huth, R. Asymmetry of day-to-day temperature changes and its causes. Theor Appl Climatol 140, 683–690 (2020).

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