Skip to main content

Circulation dynamics and its influence on European and Mediterranean January–April climate over the past half millennium: results and insights from instrumental data, documentary evidence and coupled climate models

Abstract

We use long instrumental temperature series together with available field reconstructions of sea-level pressure (SLP) and three-dimensional climate model simulations to analyze relations between temperature anomalies and atmospheric circulation patterns over much of Europe and the Mediterranean for the late winter/early spring (January–April, JFMA) season. A Canonical Correlation Analysis (CCA) investigates interannual to interdecadal covariability between a new gridded SLP field reconstruction and seven long instrumental temperature series covering the past 250 years. We then present and discuss prominent atmospheric circulation patterns related to anomalous warm and cold JFMA conditions within different European areas spanning the period 1760–2007. Next, using a data assimilation technique, we link gridded SLP data with a climate model (EC-Bilt-Clio) for a better dynamical understanding of the relationship between large scale circulation and European climate. We thus present an alternative approach to reconstruct climate for the pre-instrumental period based on the assimilated model simulations. Furthermore, we present an independent method to extend the dynamic circulation analysis for anomalously cold European JFMA conditions back to the sixteenth century. To this end, we use documentary records that are spatially representative for the long instrumental records and derive, through modern analogs, large-scale SLP, surface temperature and precipitation fields. The skill of the analog method is tested in the virtual world of two three-dimensional climate simulations (ECHO-G and HadCM3). This endeavor offers new possibilities to both constrain climate model into a reconstruction mode (through the assimilation approach) and to better asses documentary data in a quantitative way.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  1. Allan R, Ansell T (2006) A new globally complete monthly historical gridded mean sea level pressure dataset (HadSLP2):1850–2004. J Clim 19:5816–5842

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Auer I, Böhm R, Jurkovic A et al (2007) HISTALP—historical instrumental climatological surface time series of the Greater Alpine Region. Int J Climatol 27:17–46

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Barkmeijer J, Iversen T, Palmer TN (2003) Forcing singular vectors and other sensitive model structures. Q J R Meteorol Soc 129:2401–2423

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Beck C (2000) Zirkulationsdynamische Variabilität im Bereich Nordatlantik-Europa seit 1780. Würzburger Geographische Arbeiten. Mitteilungen der Geographischen Gesellschaft Würzburg, Würzburg, Deutschland, Heft 95, 350 pp

  5. Beck C, Jacobeit J, Philipp A (2001) Variability of North-Atlantic-European circulation patterns since 1780 and corresponding variations in Central European climate. In: Brunet India M, López Bonillo D (eds) Detecting and modelling regional climate change. Springer, Berlin, pp 321–331

    Google Scholar 

  6. Beck C, Jacobeit J, Jones PD (2007) Frequency and within-type variations of North-Atlantic European circulation types and their effects on low-frequency climatic variability in Central Europe since 1780. Int J Climatol 27:473–491

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Böhm R, Jones PD, Hiebl J, Brunetti M, Frank D, Maugeri M (2009) The early instrumental warm-bias: a solution for long central European temperatures series 1760–2007. Clim Change. doi:10.1007/s10584-009-9649-4

    Google Scholar 

  8. Brázdil R, Pfister C, Wanner H, von Storch H, Luterbacher J (2005) Historical climatology in Europe—the state of the art. Clim Change 70:363–430

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Brázdil R, Dobrovolný P (2010) Historical climate in central Europe during the last 500 years. In: Przybylak R et al (eds) The polish climate in the European context: an historical overview, pp 41–70. doi:10.1007/978-90-481-3167-9_2

  10. Brázdil R, Dobrovolný P, Luterbacher J, Moberg A, Pfister C, Wheeler D, Zorita E (2009) European climate of the past 500 years: new challenges for historical climatology. Clim Change. doi:10.1007/s10584-009-9783-z

    Google Scholar 

  11. Camuffo D (1987) Freezing of the Venetian Lagoon since the 6th century AD, in comparison to the climate of Western Europe and England. Clim Change 10:43–66

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Camuffo, Jones PD (eds) (2002) Improved understanding of past climatic variability from early daily European instrumental sources. Kluwer Academic, Dordrecht, 392 pp

    Google Scholar 

  13. Camuffo D, Bertolin C, Barriendos M, Dominguez-Castro F, Cocheo C, Enzi S, Sghedoni M, della Valle A, Garnier E, Alcoforado M-J, Xoplaki E, Luterbacher J, Diodato N, Maugeri M, Nunes MF, Rodriguez R (2009) 500-year temperature reconstruction in the Mediterranean Basin by means of documentary data and instrumental observations. Clim Change (revised)

  14. Della-Marta PM, Luterbacher J, von Weissenfluh H, Xoplaki E, Brunet M, Wanner H (2007) Summer heat waves over western Europe 1880–2003, their relationship to large scale forcings and predictability. Clim Dyn 29:251–275

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Dobrovolný P, Brázdil R, Valášek H, Kotyza O, Macková J, Halíèková M (2009a) A standard paleoclimatological approach to temperature reconstruction in historical climatology: an example from the Czech Republic, AD 1718–2007. Int J Climatol 29:1478–1492

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Dobrovolný P, Moberg A, Brázdil R, Pfister C, Glaser R, Wilson R, van Engelen A, Limanówka D, Kiss A, Halíčková M, Macková J, Riemann D, Luterbacher J, Böhm R (2009b) Monthly and seasonal temperature reconstructions for Central Europe derived from documentary evidence and instrumental records since AD 1500. Clim Change. doi:10.1007/s10584-009-9724-x

    Google Scholar 

  17. Fischer EM, Luterbacher J, Zorita E, Tett SFB, Casty C, Wanner H (2007) European climate response to tropical volcanic eruptions over the last half millennium. Geophys Res Lett 34:L05707

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Franke J, González Rouco JF, Frank D, Graham NE (2009) 200 years of European temperature variability: insights from and tests of the Proxy Surrogate Reconstruction analog method. Clim Dynam (in review)

  19. Gagen M, McCarrol D, Hicks S (2006) The MILLENNIUM project: European climate of the last MILLENNIUM. PAGES News 14:4

    Google Scholar 

  20. Glaser R, Brázdil R, Pfister C, Dobrovolný P, Barriendos Vallvé M, Bokwa A, Camuffo D, Kotyza O, Limanówka D, Rácz L, Rodrigo FS (1999) Seasonal temperature and precipitation fluctuations in selected parts of Europe during the sixteenth century. Clim Change 43:169–200

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. González-Rouco JF, Beltrami H, Zorita E, von Storch H (2006) Simulation and inversion of borehole temperature profiles in surrogate climates: spatial distribution and surface coupling. Geophys Res Lett 33:L01703

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. González-Rouco J, Beltrami H, Zorita E, Stevens M (2009) Borehole climatology: a discussion based on contributions from climate modeling. Clim Past 5:97–127

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Goosse H, Fichefet T (1999) Importance of ice-ocean interactions for the global ocean circulation: a model study. J Geophys Res (Oceans) 104:23337–23355

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Goosse H, Crespin E, de Montety A, Mann ME, Renssen H, Timmermann A (2009) Reconstructing surface temperature changes over the past 600 years using climate model simulations with data assimilation. J Geophys Res. doi:10.1029/2009JD012737

    Google Scholar 

  25. Gouirand I, Moberg A, Zorita E (2007) Climate variability in Scandinavia for the past millennium simulated by an atmosphere-ocean general circulation model. Tellus 59A:30–49

    Google Scholar 

  26. Hellmann G (1883) Repertorium der Deutschen Meteorologie. Leistungen der Deutschen in Schriften, Erfindungen und Beobachtungen auf dem Gebiet der Meteorologie und des Erdmagnetismus von den ältesten Zeiten bis zum Schluss des Jahres 1881. Verlag Wilhelm Engelmann, Leipzig

  27. Holopainen J, Helama S, Timonen M (2006) Plant phenological data and tree-rings as paleoclimate indicators in south-west Finland since AD 1750. J Biomet 51:61–72

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Hurrell JW (1995) Decadal trends in the North Atlantic Oscillation. Regional temperatures and precipitation. Science 269:676–679

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Jacobeit J, Beck C, Philipp A (1998) Annual to decadal variability in climate in Europe—objectives and results of the German contribution to the European climate research project ADVICE—Würzburger Geographische Manuskripte 43

  30. Jacobeit J, Wanner H, Koslowski G, Gudd M (1999) European surface pressure patterns for months with outstanding climatic anomalies during the sixteenth century. Clim Change 43:201–221

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Jacobeit J, Jönsson P, Bärring L, Beck C, Ekström M (2001a) Zonal indices for Europe 1780–1995 and running correlations with temperature. Clim Change 48:219–241

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Jacobeit J, Jones PD, Davies T, Beck C (2001b) Circulation changes in Europe since the 1780s. In: Jones PD, Ogilvie A, Davies T, Briffa K (eds) History and climate: memories of the future? Kluwer Academic, Plenum, pp 79–99

    Google Scholar 

  33. Jacobeit J, Wanner H, Luterbacher J, Beck C, Philipp A, Sturm K (2003) Atmospheric circulation variability in the North-Atlantic-European area since the mid-seventeenth century. Clim Dyn 20:341–352

    Google Scholar 

  34. Jacobeit J, Rathmann J, Philipp A, Jones PD (2009) Central European precipitation and temperature extremes in relation to large-scale atmospheric circulation types. Meteorol Z 18:397–410

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Jones PD (2001) Early European instrumental record. In: Jones PD, Ogilvie AEJ, Davies TD, Briffa K (eds) History and climate: memories of the future? Kluwer Academic, New York, pp 55–77

    Google Scholar 

  36. Jones PD, Briffa KR (2006) Unusual climate in northwest Europe during the period 1730 to 1745 based on instrumental and documentary data. Clim Change 79:361–379

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Jones PD et al (1999) Monthly mean pressure reconstruction for Europe 1780–1995. Int J Climatol 19:347–364

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Jones P, Briffa K, Osborn T (2003) Changes in the Northern Hemisphere annual cycle: implications for paleoclimatology? J Geophys Res 108:4588. doi:10.1029/2003JD003695

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. Koenig SJ (2007) Potential of documentary based climate information for the evaluation of European temperature extremes and large scale SLP reconstructions. Master’s thesis, Institute of Geography, University of Bern

  40. Koslowski G, Glaser R (1999) Variations in reconstructed ice winter severity in the Western Baltic from 1501 to 1995, and their implications for the North Atlantic Oscillation. Clim Change 41:175–191

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. Küttel M, Xoplaki E, Gallego D, Luterbacher J, Garcia-Herrera R, Allan R, Barriendos M, Jones PD, Wheeler D, Wanner H (2009) The importance of ship log data: reconstructing North Atlantic, European and Mediterranean sea level pressure fields back to 1750. Clim Dyn. doi:10.1007/s00382-009-0577-9

    Google Scholar 

  42. Küttel M, Luterbacher J, Wanner H (2010) Multidecadal changes in winter circulation-climate relationship in Europe: frequency variations, within-type modifications, and long-term trends. Clim Dynam. doi:10.1007/s00382-009-0737-y

    Google Scholar 

  43. Labrijn A (1945) Het klimaat van Nederland gedurende de laatste twee en een halve eeuw, publ. MV49 KNMI

  44. Leijonhufvud L, Moberg A, Wilson R (2008) Documentary data provide evidence of Stockholm average winter to spring temperatures in the 18th and 19th centuries. Holocene 18:333–343

    Article  Google Scholar 

  45. Leijonhufvud L, Wilson R, Moberg A, Söderberg J, Retsö D, Söderlind U (2009) Five centuries of winter/spring temperatures in Stockholm reconstructed from documentary evidence and instrumental observations. Clim Change. doi:10.1007/s10584-009-9650-y

    Google Scholar 

  46. Limanówka D (1996) Daily weather observations in Cracow in the 16th century. Zeszyty Nauk UJ, Prace Geograficzne 102:503–508

    Google Scholar 

  47. Limanówka D (2000) The transformation of thermal descriptive characteristic in Cracow from 16th century into the quantitative evaluation. Prace Geograficzne 107:113–117

    Google Scholar 

  48. Limanówka D (2001) Rekonstrukcja warunków klimatycznych Krakowa w pierwszej polowie XVI wieku (Reconstruction of climatic conditions in Cracow in the first half of the 16th century). Instytut Meteorologii i Gospodarki Wodnej, Warszawa

    Google Scholar 

  49. Livezey RE, Chen W (1983) Statistical field significance and its determination by Monte Carlo Techniques. Mon Weather Rev 111:46–59

    Article  Google Scholar 

  50. Luterbacher J and 33 co-authors (2000) Monthly mean pressure reconstruction for the late maunder minimum period (AD 1675–1715) based on canonical correlation analysis. Int J Climatol 20:1049–1066

    Article  Google Scholar 

  51. Luterbacher J, Xoplaki E, Dietrich D, Rickli R, Jacobeit J, Beck C, Gyalistras D, Schmutz C, Wanner H (2002) Reconstruction of sea level pressure fields over the Eastern North Atlantic and Europe back to 1500. Clim Dyn 18:545–561

    Google Scholar 

  52. Luterbacher J, Dietrich D, Xoplaki E, Grosjean M, Wanner H (2004) European seasonal and annual temperature variability, trends and extremes since 1500. Science 303:1499–1503

    Article  Google Scholar 

  53. Luterbacher J, Liniger MA, Menzel A, Estrella N, Della-Marta PM, Pfister C, Rutishauser T, Xoplaki E (2007) The exceptional European warmth of Autumn 2006 and Winter 2007: historical context, the underlying dynamics and its phenological impacts. Geophys Res Lett 34:L12704

    Article  Google Scholar 

  54. Luterbacher J, Xoplaki E, Küttel M, Zorita E, González-Rouco JF, Jones PD, Stössel M, Rutishauser T, Wanner H, Wibig J, Przybylak R (2010) Climate change in Poland in the past centuries and its relationship to European climate: Evidence from reconstructions and coupled climate models. In: R. Przybylak et al. (eds) The Polish climate in the European context: An historical overview (pp. 3–39). doi:10.1007/978-90-481-3167-9_1

  55. Michaelsen J (1987) Cross-validation in statistical climate forecast models. J Clim Appl Meteorol 26:1589–1600

    Article  Google Scholar 

  56. Mitchell TD, Jones PD (2005) An improved method of constructing a database of monthly climate observations and associated high-resolution grids. Int J Climatol 25:693–712

    Article  Google Scholar 

  57. Moberg A, Bergström H (1997) Homogenization of Swedish temperature data. Part III: the long temperature records from Stockholm and Uppsala. Int J Climatol 17:667–699

    Article  Google Scholar 

  58. Moberg A, Bergström H, Ruiz Krigsman J, Svanered O (2002) Daily air temperature and pressure series for Stockholm (1756–1998). Clim Change 53:171–212

    Article  Google Scholar 

  59. Opsteegh JD, Haarsma RJ, Selten FM, Kattenberg A (1998) ECBILT: a dynamic alternative to mixed boundary conditions in ocean models. Tellus 50A:348–367

    Google Scholar 

  60. Pauling A, Luterbacher J, Casty C, Wanner H (2006) 500 years of gridded high-resolution precipitation reconstructions over Europe and the connection to large-scale circulation. Clim Dyn 26:387–405

    Article  Google Scholar 

  61. Pfister C, Luterbacher J, Wanner H, Wheeler D, Brázdil R, Ge Q, Hao Z, Moberg A, Grab S, Rosario del Prieto M (2008) Documentary evidence as climate proxies. White paper produced from the PAGES/CLIVAR workshop, Trieste, 2008, http://www.pages-igbp.org/cgi-bin/WebObjects/products.woa/wa/product?id=331

  62. Philipp A, Della Marta PM, Jacobeit J, Fereday D, Jones PM, Moberg A, Wanner H (2007) Long-term variability of daily North-Atlantic–European Pressure Patterns since 1850 classified by Simulated Annealing Clustering. J Climate 20:4065–4095

    Article  Google Scholar 

  63. Preisendorfer R (1988) Principal component analysis in meteorology and oceanography. Elsevier, Amsterdam

    Google Scholar 

  64. Przybylak R, Oliński P, Chorążyczewski W, Nowosad W, Syta K (2010) Documentary evidence. In: R. Przybylak et al. (eds) The polish climate in the European context: an historical overview (pp. 167–190). doi:10.1007/978-90-481-3167-9_6

  65. Rapp J (2000) Konzeption, Problematik und Ergebnisse klimatologischer Trendanalysen für Europa und Deutschland. DWD, Offenbach

    Google Scholar 

  66. Rutishauser T, Schleip C, Sparks T, Nordli Ø, Menzel A, Wanner H, Jeanneret F, Luterbacher J (2009) The temperature sensitivity of Swiss and British plant phenology 1753–1958. Clim Res 39:179–190

    Article  Google Scholar 

  67. Shabalova MV, van Engelen AFV (2003) Evaluation of a reconstruction of winter and summer temperatures in the Low Countries, AD 764–1998. Clim Change 58:219–242

    Article  Google Scholar 

  68. Shabbar A, Skinner W (2004) Summer drought patterns in Canada and the relationship to global seas surface temperatures. J Climate 17:2866–2880

    Article  Google Scholar 

  69. Slonosky VC, Jones PD, Davies TD (2001) Atmospheric circulation and surface temperature in Europe from the 18th century to 1995. Int J Climatol 21:63–75

    Article  Google Scholar 

  70. Tarand A (1992) Meteorological observations in Estonia before 1850 (in Estonian). Folia on science history in Estonia VIII. Tallinn, 30–50

  71. Tarand A (2003) Tallinnas mõõdetud õhutemperatuuri aegrida (in Estonian with English summary). Time series of average monthly and annual air observed air temperature in Tallinn. Publications Instituti Geographici Universitatis Tartuensis 93:24–30

    Google Scholar 

  72. Tarand A, Nordli O (2001) The Tallinn temperature series reconstructed back half a millennium by use of proxy data. Clim Change 48:189–199

    Article  Google Scholar 

  73. Tett S, Betts R, Crowley T, Gregory J, Johns T, Jones A, Osborn TJ, Öström E, Roberts D, Woodage M (2007) The impact of natural and anthropogenic forcings on climate and hydrology since 1550. Clim Dyn 28:3–34

    Article  Google Scholar 

  74. Trenberth KE (1990) Recent observed interdecadal climate changes in the Northern Hemisphere. Bull Am Meteorol Soc 71:989–993

    Article  Google Scholar 

  75. Trepińska J red (1997) Fluctuations of climate in Cracow (1792–1995). Institute of Geography of Jagiellonian University, Kraków

    Google Scholar 

  76. Trigo RM, Vaquero JM, Alcoforado MJ, Barriendos M, Taborda J, Garcia-Herrera R, Luterbacher J (2009) Iberia in 1816, the year without summer. Int J Climatol 29:99–115

    Article  Google Scholar 

  77. van den Dool HM, Krijnen HL, Schuurmans CJE (1978) Average winter temperatures at De Bilt (the Netherlands): 1634–1977. Clim Change 1:319–330

    Article  Google Scholar 

  78. van Engelen AFV, Nellestijn JW (1996) Monthly, seasonal and annual means of the air temperature in tenths of centigrade in De Bilt. Publ. KNMI, The Netherlands

  79. van Engelen AFV, Geurts HAM (1983–1992) Historische Weerkundige Waarnemingen, I–V, I: Geschiedenis van weerkundige waarnemingen in het bijzonder in Nederland vóór de oprichting van het KNMI, II Vooruitstrevende ideeën over de meteorologie en klimatologie van Petrus van Musschenbroek—1692–1761 IIa: Inleidende tekst bij de meteorologische waarnemingsreeks Utrecht/Leiden 1729–1758, Petrus van Musschenbroek, III: Een rekenmodel dat het verloop van de temperatuur over een etmaal berekent uit drie termijnmetingen van de temperatuur, IV: Nicolaus Cruquius (1678–1754) and his meteorological obeservations, V: Beschrijving antieke meetreeksen, KNMI publ. 165-I, II, IIa, III, IV, V, (De Bilt. 1983–1992)

  80. van Engelen AFV, Buisman J, IJnsen F (2001) A millennium of weather, winds and water in the Low Countries. In: Jones PD et al (ed) History and climate: memories of the future? Kluwer Academic, New York, pp 101–124

    Google Scholar 

  81. van Loon H, Rogers J (1978) The seesaw in winter temperatures between Greenland and Northern Europe. Part I: general description. Mon Weather Rev 106:296–310

    Article  Google Scholar 

  82. van der Schrier G, Barkmeijer J (2005) Bjerknes’ hypothesis on the coldness during 1790–1820 AD revisited. Clim Dyn 24:355–371

    Article  Google Scholar 

  83. van der Schrier G, Barkmeijer J (2007) North American 1818–1824 drought and 1825–1840 pluvial and their possible relation to the atmospheric circulation. J Geophys Res 112:D13102

    Article  Google Scholar 

  84. van der Schrier G, Drijfhout SS, Hazeleger W, Noulin L (2007) Increasing the Atlantic subtropical jet cools the circum-North Atlantic. Meteorol Z 16:675–684

    Article  Google Scholar 

  85. von Storch H, Zwiers F (1999) Statistical analysis in climate research. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

    Book  Google Scholar 

  86. Widmann M, Goosse H, van der Schrier G, Schnur R, Barkmeijer J (2009) Using data assimilation to study extratropical Northern Hemisphere climate over the last millennium. Clim Past Discuss 5:2115–2156

    Article  Google Scholar 

  87. Wilks DS (1995) Statistical methods in the atmospheric sciences. An introduction. Academic Press

  88. Xoplaki E, Gonzalez-Rouco JF, Luterbacher J, Wanner H (2003) Mediterranean summer air temperature variability and its connection to the large-scale atmospheric circulation and SSTs. Clim Dyn 20:723–739

    Google Scholar 

  89. Xoplaki E, Luterbacher J, Paeth H, Dietrich D, Steiner N, Grosjean M, Wanner H (2005) European spring and autumn temperature variability and change of extremes over the last half millennium. Geophys Res Lett 32:L15713

    Article  Google Scholar 

  90. Zerefos CS, Gerogiannis VT, Balis D, Zerefos SC, Kazantzidis A (2007) Atmospheric effects of volcanic eruptions as seen by famous artists and depicted in their paintings. Atmos Chem Phys 7:4027–4042

    Article  Google Scholar 

  91. Zorita E, González-Rouco JF, von Storch H (2007) Comment to “Testing the fidelity of methods used in proxy-based reconstructions of past climate” by Mann et al. J Climate 20:3693–3698

    Article  Google Scholar 

  92. Zorita E, Moberg A, Leijonhufvud L, Wilson R, Brázdil R, Dobrovolný P, Pfister C, Luterbacher J, Söderberg J, Gonzalez-Rouco JF (2009) European temperature records of the past five centuries based on documentary information compared to climate simulations. Clim Change (revised, this issue)

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to J. Luterbacher.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Luterbacher, J., Koenig, S.J., Franke, J. et al. Circulation dynamics and its influence on European and Mediterranean January–April climate over the past half millennium: results and insights from instrumental data, documentary evidence and coupled climate models. Climatic Change 101, 201–234 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-009-9782-0

Download citation

Keywords

  • Canonical Correlation Analysis
  • European Climate
  • Cold Anomaly
  • Instrumental Period
  • Documentary Data