Monday, 10 January 2005
Consistency of recent European summer climate trends and extremes with future regional climate projections
Summer climate over Europe in recent decades has been characterized by a drying trend and by the occurrence of devastating drought and flood events, such as in the summers of 2002 and 2003. In this study, we compare these trends with results from regional climate model simulations of future climate over the European region under increased greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations. We find that the projected changes in mean summer precipitation and large-scale circulations over Europe are remarkably consistent with the observed changes in the last 25 years. Although we are not directly attributing the observed changes to an anthropogenic GHG forcing, this result suggests that the observed drying trend over most of the European region might continue in the decades to come. Our experiments additionally indicate substantial changes in the intensity and persistence of summer drought and flood. In particular, we identify the central Mediterranean and central/western Europe to be especially vulnerable to increases in both summer drought and flood, suggesting that the frequency of devastating events such as those experienced in recent summers might also increase.