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Tropical Atlantic Influence on European Heat Waves

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  • 1 Climate Modelling and Global Change Project, CERFACS/CNRS, Toulouse, France
  • | 2 Climate and Global Dynamics Division, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado
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Abstract

Diagnostics combining atmospheric reanalysis and station-based temperature data for 1950–2003 indicate that European heat waves can be associated with the occurrence of two specific summertime atmospheric circulation regimes. Evidence is presented that during the record warm summer of 2003, the excitation of these two regimes was significantly favored by the anomalous tropical Atlantic heating related to wetter-than-average conditions in both the Caribbean basin and the Sahel. Given the persistence of tropical Atlantic climate anomalies, their seasonality, and their associated predictability, the suggested tropical–extratropical Atlantic connection is encouraging for the prospects of long-range forecasting of extreme weather in Europe.

Corresponding author address: Christophe Cassou, CERFACS/CNRS, 42, Avenue Gustave Coriolis, 31057 Toulouse Cedex, France. Email: cassou@cerfacs.fr

Abstract

Diagnostics combining atmospheric reanalysis and station-based temperature data for 1950–2003 indicate that European heat waves can be associated with the occurrence of two specific summertime atmospheric circulation regimes. Evidence is presented that during the record warm summer of 2003, the excitation of these two regimes was significantly favored by the anomalous tropical Atlantic heating related to wetter-than-average conditions in both the Caribbean basin and the Sahel. Given the persistence of tropical Atlantic climate anomalies, their seasonality, and their associated predictability, the suggested tropical–extratropical Atlantic connection is encouraging for the prospects of long-range forecasting of extreme weather in Europe.

Corresponding author address: Christophe Cassou, CERFACS/CNRS, 42, Avenue Gustave Coriolis, 31057 Toulouse Cedex, France. Email: cassou@cerfacs.fr

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