Atmospheric circulation variability in the North-Atlantic-European area since the mid-seventeenth century. Climate Dyn

Institute of Geography, University of Würzburg, Am Hubland, D-97074 Würzburg, Germany
Climate Dynamics (Impact Factor: 4.67). 01/2003; 20(4):341-352. DOI: 10.1007/s00382-002-0278-0


Based on monthly mean sea level pressure grids objectively reconstructed by Luterbacher et al. variations of dynamical modes of the atmospheric circulation for January and July are described by novel indices for running 31-year periods between 1659 and 1999. These indices reflect the continuous evolution of the atmospheric circulation not only with regard to frequency changes of major dynamical modes but also in terms of internal changes within each mode concerning both dynamic (vorticity, intensity) and climatic properties (Central European temperature and precipitation during occurrence of each mode, respectively). Results indicate the great importance of within-mode variations: the zonal circulation mode in January, varying in frequency with long-term cycles, primarily changed its dynamic and climatic properties (towards higher indices) during the transition from the Little Ice Age to modern conditions between 1800 and 1930. Within the Russian High mode of January a change in preference from easterly to westerly patterns above Central Europe occurred around 1850. For July, a striking frequency maximum of the westerly mode at the end of the eighteenth century coincided with a period of marked summer warmth in Central Europe due to negative/positive deviations in vorticity/temperature during occurrence of this mode. The long-term evolution in July indicates a general increase of anticyclonic conditions strengthening during the last 50 years towards a unique phenomenon within the last centuries. The strong increase in the winter-time westerly circulation during the last decades, however, does not appear extraordinary in view of the low-frequency variations of this mode.

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    • "This reduced storminess in the Cors Fochno reconstruction may in part result from the bog's location making it sensitive to westerly tracking storms. Westerly airflow was suggested as the cause of the increased flooding at the LIA transitions (Rumsby and Macklin, 1996), while at the peak of the LIA (the Maunder Minimum, 1645–1715 AD) documentary and modelling evidence has indicated that there were more meridional circulation patterns, blocking high pressures across northern Europe, a southerly storm track in winter and lower precipitation particularly on Britain's west coast (Lamb, 1966; Luterbacher et al., 2001; Jacobeit et al., 2003; Raible et al., 2007). In support of this, reconstructions from across southern Europe suggest precipitation and flooding increased between 0.45 and 0.25/0.15 "
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    • "The systematic categorization of atmospheric behaviour into a series of discrete archetypal circulation patterns, provides a means for studying the dynamics of large-scale circulation and its relationship with variability in surface weather and climate (Barry and Perry, 1973; Sweeney and O'Hare, 1992; Buishand and Brandsma, 1997; Jacobeit et al., 2003; Ustrnul, 2006; Beck et al., 2007; Esteban et al., 2009). Previously synoptic typing has been used to investigate the link between distinct modes of circulation and a multitude of 'exotic' or environmental variables including: human mortality rates (Kassomenos et al., 2001); hydrological drought (Stahl and Siegfreid, 1999; Vicente-Serrano and Lopez-Moreno, 2006; Fleig et al., 2010) and flooding (Samaniego and Bárdossy, 2007; Pattison and Lane, 2011; Prudhomme and Genevier, 2011); viticulture (Jones and Davis, 2000); urban heat islands (Unger, 1996; Mihalakakou et al., 2002; Wilby, 2003); * Correspondence to: C. Broderick, Department of Geography, NUI Maynooth, Co. Kildare, Ireland. "
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