Articles | Volume 15, issue 1
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 15, 57–64, 2011
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-15-57-2011
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 15, 57–64, 2011
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-15-57-2011

Research article 04 Jan 2011

Research article | 04 Jan 2011

A summer climate regime over Europe modulated by the North Atlantic Oscillation

G. Wang1, A. J. Dolman1, and A. Alessandri2 G. Wang et al.
  • 1Department of Hydrology and Geo-environmental Sciences, Faculty of Earth and Life Sciences, VU University Amsterdam, De Boelelaan 1085, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • 2Centro Euro-Mediterraneo per i Cambiamenti Climatici, Via Aldo Moro 44, 40127 Bologna, Italy

Abstract. Recent summer heat waves in Europe were found to be preceded by precipitation deficits in winter. Numerical studies suggest that these phenomena are dynamically linked by land-atmosphere interactions. However, there exists as yet no complete observational evidence that connects summer climate variability to winter precipitation and the relevant circulation patterns. In this paper, we investigate the functional responses of summer mean and maximum temperature (June–August, Tmean and Tmax) as well as soil moisture proxied by the self-calibrating Palmer drought severity index (scPDSI) to preceding winter precipitation (January–March, PJFM) for the period 1901–2005. All the analyzed summer fields show distinctive responses to PJFM over the Mediterranean. We estimate that 10 ~ 15% of the interannual variability of Tmax and Tmean over the Mediterranean is statistically forced by PJFM. For the scPDSI this amounts to 10 ~ 25%. Further analysis shows that these responses are highly correlated to the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) regime over the Mediterranean. We suggest that NAO modulates European summer temperature by controlling winter precipitation that initializes the moisture states that subsequently interact with temperature. This picture of relations between European summer climate and NAO as well as winter precipitation suggests potential for improved seasonal prediction of summer climate for particular extreme events.