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Regional atmospheric circulation over Europe during the Last Glacial Maximum and its links to precipitation

Ludwig, P., Schaffernicht, E. J., Shao, Y. and Pinto, J. G. (2016) Regional atmospheric circulation over Europe during the Last Glacial Maximum and its links to precipitation. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 121 (5). pp. 2130-2145. ISSN 2169-8996

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1002/2015JD024444


The Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) exhibits different large-scale atmospheric conditions compared to present-day climate due to altered boundary conditions. The regional atmospheric circulation and associated precipitation patterns over Europe are characterized for the first time with a weather typing approach (circulation weather types, CWT) for LGM paleoclimate simulations. The CWT approach is applied to four representative regions across Europe. While the CWTs over Western Europe are prevailing westerly for both present-day and LGM conditions, considerable differences are identified elsewhere: Southern Europe experienced more frequent westerly and cyclonic CWTs under LGM conditions, while Central and Eastern Europe was predominantly affected by southerly and easterly flow patterns. Under LGM conditions, rainfall is enhanced over Western Europe but is reduced over most of Central and Eastern Europe. These differences are explained by changing CWT frequencies and evaporation patterns over the North Atlantic Ocean. The regional differences of the CWTs and precipitation patterns are linked to the North Atlantic storm track, which was stronger over Europe in all considered models during the LGM, explaining the overall increase of the cyclonic CWT. Enhanced evaporation over the North Atlantic leads to higher moisture availability over the ocean. Despite the overall cooling during the LGM, this explains the enhanced precipitation over southwestern Europe, particularly Iberia. This study links large-scale atmospheric dynamics to the regional circulation and associated precipitation patterns and provides an improved regional assessment of the European climate under LGM conditions.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:62108
Publisher:American Geophysical Union


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