Articles | Volume 15, issue 8
Research article
24 Aug 2011
Research article |  | 24 Aug 2011

The response of Iberian rivers to the North Atlantic Oscillation

J. Lorenzo-Lacruz, S. M. Vicente-Serrano, J. I. López-Moreno, J. C. González-Hidalgo, and E. Morán-Tejeda

Abstract. In this study we analyzed the influence of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) on the streamflow in 187 sub-basins of the Iberian Peninsula. Monthly and one-month lagged correlations were conducted to assess the spatio-temporal extent of the NAO influence on Iberian river discharges. Analysis of the persistence of the winter NAO throughout the year was also undertaken, together with analysis of streamflow anomalies during positive and negative NAO phases. Moving-window correlation analyses were conducted to assess potential changes in the temporal evolution of the NAO influence on Iberian streamflows. The results show that the NAO has a large impact on surface water resources throughout the Iberian Peninsula during winter, and in the Atlantic watershed during autumn. We showed that water resources management and snowmelt are causing the persistent dependence of streamflows on the previous winter NAO. We found that strongly positive streamflow anomalies occurred during winter, especially in the Atlantic watershed, and provide evidence of non-stationarity and spatial variability in the NAO influence on Iberian water resources.