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Reading, United Kingdom

Brayshaw D.J.,Walker Institute | Brayshaw D.J.,Walker Institute | Brayshaw D.J.,University of Reading | Hoskins B.,University of Reading | And 2 more authors.
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences | Year: 2010

The winter climate of Europe and the Mediterranean is dominated by the weather systems of the mid-latitude storm tracks. The behaviour of the storm tracks is highly variable, particularly in the eastern North Atlantic, and has a profound impact on the hydroclimate of the Mediterranean region. A deeper understanding of the storm tracks and the factors that drive them is therefore crucial for interpreting past changes in Mediterranean climate and the civilizations it has supported over the last 12 000 years (broadly the Holocene period). This paper presents a discussion of how changes in climate forcing (e.g. orbital variations, greenhouse gases, ice sheet cover) may have impacted on the 'basic ingredients' controlling the mid-latitude storm tracks over the North Atlantic and the Mediterranean on intermillennial time scales. Idealized simulations using the HadAM3 atmospheric general circulation model (GCM) are used to explore the basic processes, while a series of timeslice simulations from a similar atmospheric GCM coupled to a thermodynamic slab ocean (HadSM3) are examined to identify the impact these drivers have on the storm track during the Holocene. The results suggest that the North Atlantic storm track has moved northward and strengthened with time since the Early to Mid-Holocene. In contrast, the Mediterranean storm track may have weakened over the same period. It is, however, emphasized that much remains still to be understood about the evolution of the North Atlantic and Mediterranean storm tracks during the Holocene period. © 2010 The Royal Society.

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