European Hot Summers Associated with a Reduction of Cloudiness

Qiuhong Tang Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China

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Guoyong Leng Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Graduate University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China

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Pavel Ya. Groisman National Climatic Data Center, Asheville, North Carolina

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Abstract

A pronounced summer warming is observed in Europe since the 1980s that has been accompanied by an increase in the occurrence of heat waves. Water deficit that strongly reduces surface latent cooling is a widely accepted explanation for the causes of hot summers. The authors show that the variance of European summer temperature is partly explained by changes in summer cloudiness. Using observation-based products of climate variables, satellite-derived cloud cover, and radiation products, the authors show that, during the 1984–2007 period, Europe has become less cloudy (except northeastern Europe) and the regions east of Europe have become cloudier in summer daytime. In response, the summer temperatures increased in the areas of total cloud cover decrease and stalled or declined in the areas of cloud cover increase. Trends in the surface shortwave radiation are generally positive (negative) in the regions with summer warming (cooling or stalled warming), whereas the signs of trends in top-of-atmosphere (TOA) reflected shortwave radiation are reversed. The authors’ results suggest that total cloud cover is either the important local factor influencing the summer temperature changes in Europe or a major indicator of these changes.

Corresponding author address: Qiuhong Tang, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, No. 11A, Datun Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing 100101, China. E-mail: tangqh@igsnrr.ac.cn

Abstract

A pronounced summer warming is observed in Europe since the 1980s that has been accompanied by an increase in the occurrence of heat waves. Water deficit that strongly reduces surface latent cooling is a widely accepted explanation for the causes of hot summers. The authors show that the variance of European summer temperature is partly explained by changes in summer cloudiness. Using observation-based products of climate variables, satellite-derived cloud cover, and radiation products, the authors show that, during the 1984–2007 period, Europe has become less cloudy (except northeastern Europe) and the regions east of Europe have become cloudier in summer daytime. In response, the summer temperatures increased in the areas of total cloud cover decrease and stalled or declined in the areas of cloud cover increase. Trends in the surface shortwave radiation are generally positive (negative) in the regions with summer warming (cooling or stalled warming), whereas the signs of trends in top-of-atmosphere (TOA) reflected shortwave radiation are reversed. The authors’ results suggest that total cloud cover is either the important local factor influencing the summer temperature changes in Europe or a major indicator of these changes.

Corresponding author address: Qiuhong Tang, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, No. 11A, Datun Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing 100101, China. E-mail: tangqh@igsnrr.ac.cn
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