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Claudio Saffioti, Erich M. Fischer, and Reto Knutti

Abstract

The influence of atmospheric circulation on winter temperature and precipitation trends over Europe in the period 2006–50 is investigated in a 21-member initial condition ensemble from a fully coupled global climate model and in a multimodel framework consisting of 40 different models. Five versions of a dynamical adjustment method based on empirical orthogonal function analysis of sea level pressure are introduced, and their performance in removing the effect of atmospheric circulation on temperature and precipitation is tested. The differences in atmospheric circulation as simulated by different models in their control runs and under the historical and representative concentration pathway 8.5 (RCP8.5) forcing scenarios are investigated. Dynamical adjustment is applied to the multimodel ensemble to demonstrate that a substantial fraction of the uncertainty in projected European temperature and precipitation trends is explained by atmospheric circulation variability. A statistically significant response of sea level pressure to anthropogenic forcing is identified in the multimodel ensemble under the RCP8.5 scenario. This forced response in atmospheric circulation is associated with a dynamical contribution to the long-term multimodel mean temperature and precipitation trends. The results highlight the importance of accounting for the impact of atmospheric circulation variability on trends in regional climate projections.

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