11 Apr 2023
 | 11 Apr 2023

Extremely Warm European Summers driven by Sub-Decadal North Atlantic Heat Inertia

Lara Hellmich, Laura Suarez-Gutierrez, Daniela Matei, and Wolfgang A. Müller

Abstract. The internal variability of European summer temperatures has been linked to various mechanisms on seasonal to sub- and multi-decadal timescales. We find that sub-decadal time scales dominate summer temperature variability over large parts of the continent, and the mechanisms controlling such sub-decadal variations remain unexplored. Extremely warm summers occurring in sub-decadal periods when abnormally warm summer temperatures conglomerate are controlled by a strengthening of the subtropical gyre, an increase of heat transport, and an accumulation of heat content several years prior to an extremely warm European summer, thereby affecting ocean-atmosphere heat fluxes during extreme summers. This leads to a weakening and northward displacement of the jet stream and increased probability of atmospheric blocking over Scandinavia. Our findings link the occurrence of extremely warm European summers to the inertia of the North Atlantic, whose potential to improve the predictability of extremely warm summers several years ahead is of great societal interest, especially in a warming climate.

Lara Hellmich et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • EC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-653', Olivia Martius, 08 May 2023
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-653', Anonymous Referee #1, 16 May 2023
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-653', Anonymous Referee #2, 23 May 2023

Lara Hellmich et al.

Lara Hellmich et al.


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Short summary
European summer temperatures are influenced by mechanisms on different time scales. We find that time scales of 5 to 10 years dominate the changes in summer temperature over large parts of the continent. Further, we find that specific processes within the North Atlantic, affecting the storage and transport of heat, cause changes in the atmosphere and extremely warm European summers. Our findings could be used for better forecasts of extremely warm European summers several years ahead.