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21st century changes in the European climate: uncertainties derived from an ensemble of regional climate model simulations

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Seasonal mean temperature, precipitation and wind speed over Europe are analysed in an ensemble of 16 regional climate model (RCM) simulations for 1961–2100. The RCM takes boundary conditions from seven global climate models (GCMs) under four emission scenarios. One GCM was run three times under one emission scenario differing only in initial conditions. The ensemble is used to; (i) evaluate the simulated climate for 1961–1990, (ii) assess future climate change and (iii) illustrate uncertainties in future climate change related to natural variability, boundary conditions and emissions. Biases in the 1961–1990 period are strongly related to errors in the large-scale circulation in the GCMs. Significant temperature increases are seen for all of Europe already in the next decades. Precipitation increases in northern and decreases in southern Europe with a zone in between where the sign of change is uncertain. Wind speed decreases in many areas with exceptions in the northern seas and in parts of the Mediterranean in summer. Uncertainty largely depends on choice of GCM and their representation of changes in the large-scale circulation. The uncertainty related to forcing is most important by the end of the century while natural variability sometimes dominates the uncertainty in the nearest few decades.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Rossby Centre, Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute, SE 601 96 Norrköping, Sweden

Publication date: January 1, 2011

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