Impact of ocean-atmosphere coupling on present and future Köppen-Geiger climate classification in Europe

dmitry.sein [ at ]


The effect of air-sea coupling in the simulation of the European climate is assessed through a climate type classification that uses surface temperature and precipitation from a regional atmosphere-ocean coupled model and from its atmospheric component. The atmospheric setup in both models is the same, differing only in the representation of the oceanic fields. The simulations cover the present and future-time climate under the RCP8.5 CMIP5 scenario. Climate type distributions obtained from both coupled and uncoupled simulations are similar to those obtained from ERA5 for the 1976–2005 period. Both models simulate colder climate types for present-time in southern and northeastern regions compared to ERA5, possibly due to a weaker influence of the Atlantic circulation, and drier climate types in some western Mediterranean areas. Also, for present-time coupling leads to more humid winters (relatively drier summers) in some zones of north Spain and south France, and drier climates in some western Mediterranean spots. Based on simulations with these models under the RCP8.5 scenario, we find that by the end of the 21st century (2070–2099) the climate type distribution changes in more than 50% of the domain. While both models project the reduction of regions with cold climate types and the expansion of those with hot summers and hot arid climate types, these changes affect a larger area in the coupled simulation. These differences may be related to a drier signal in the coupled simulation, especially during summer, due to the influence of colder surface water in the North Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. Using a climate classification to evaluate the annual cycles of the simulated temperature and precipitation data provides a novel insight into the impact of air-ocean coupling on the representation of the climate, and consequently into the simulated impact on ecosystems and human activities in Europe.

Item Type
Primary Division
Primary Topic
Helmholtz Cross Cutting Activity (2021-2027)
Publication Status
Eprint ID
DOI 10.1016/j.atmosres.2022.106223

Cite as
Falquina, R. , de la Vara, A. , Cabos, W. , Sein, D. and Gallardo, C. (2022): Impact of ocean-atmosphere coupling on present and future Köppen-Geiger climate classification in Europe , Atmospheric Research, 275 , p. 106223 . doi: 10.1016/j.atmosres.2022.106223

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