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Climate of the Past An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 5, issue 1 | Copyright
Clim. Past, 5, 1-12, 2009
https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-5-1-2009
© Author(s) 2009. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

  21 Jan 2009

21 Jan 2009

Western Europe is warming much faster than expected

G. J. van Oldenborgh1, S. Drijfhout1, A. van Ulden1, R. Haarsma1, A. Sterl1, C. Severijns1, W. Hazeleger1, and H. Dijkstra2 G. J. van Oldenborgh et al.
  • 1KNMI (Koninklijk Nederlands Meteorologisch Instituut), De Bilt, The Netherlands
  • 2Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research, Utrecht University, The Netherlands

Abstract. The warming trend of the last decades is now so strong that it is discernible in local temperature observations. This opens the possibility to compare the trend to the warming predicted by comprehensive climate models (GCMs), which up to now could not be verified directly to observations on a local scale, because the signal-to-noise ratio was too low. The observed temperature trend in western Europe over the last decades appears much stronger than simulated by state-of-the-art GCMs. The difference is very unlikely due to random fluctuations, either in fast weather processes or in decadal climate fluctuations. In winter and spring, changes in atmospheric circulation are important; in spring and summer changes in soil moisture and cloud cover. A misrepresentation of the North Atlantic Current affects trends along the coast. Many of these processes ontinue to affect trends in projections for the 21st century. This implies that climate predictions for western Europe probably underestimate the effects of anthropogenic climate change.

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