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Mechanisms for European summer temperature response to solar forcing over the last millennium

April 30, 2012

A simulation of the last millennium is compared to a recent spatio-temporal reconstruc- tion of summer temperature over Europe. The focus is on the response to solar forcing over the pre-industrial era. Although the correlation between solar forcing and the re-construction remains small, the spatial regression over solar forcing shows statistically significant regions. The meridional pattern of this regression is found to be similar in the model and in the reconstruction. This pattern exhibits a large warming over Northern and Mediterranean Europe and a lesser amplitude response over Central Europe. The mechanisms explaining this pattern in the simulation are mainly related to evapotranspiration fluxes. It is shown that the evapotranspiration is larger in summer over Central Europe when solar forcing increases, while it decreases over the Mediterranean area. The explanation for the evapotranspiration increase over Central Europe is found in the increase of winter precipitation there, leading to a soil moisture increase in spring. As a consequence, the evapotranspiration is larger in summer, which leads to an increase in cloud cover over this region, reducing the surface shortwave flux there and leading to less warming. Over the Mediterranean area, the surface shortwave flux increases with solar forcing, the soil becomes dryer and the evapotranspiration is reduced in summer leading to a larger increase in temperature. This effect appears to be overestimated in the model as compared to the reconstruction. Finally, the warming of Northern Europe is related to the albedo feedback due to sea-ice cover retreat with increasing solar forc- ing. These results show that the last millennium can be useful to evaluate the sensitivity of climate models to radiative forcing changes, using spatio-temporal reconstruction of climate.

Swingedouw, D. Terray, L. Servonnat, J. Guiot, J. in press, Mechanisms for European summer temperature response to solar forcing over the last millennium, Climate of the Past Discussions, 8-1301-1318, 2012, doi: 10.5194/cpd-8-1301-2012, Article.

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