This study was supported by the North Rhine–Westphalia Academy of Science under the project “Large Scale Climate Changes and their Environmental Relevance.” We thank three anonymous reviewers and the editor for their comments and suggestions, which helped to greatly improve the first version of the manuscript. We appreciate the advice of Albert Klein Tank of KNMI (DeBilt) and discussions with Pavel Groisman of NCDC (Asheville). We also benefited from the support of the Russian Ministry of Science and Education under Grants 02.515.11.5032, NS-1566.2008.5, and MK–3459.2007.5 and from the Russian Foundation for Basic Research (Grant 08-05-00878-a).
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