This paper investigates the temporal and spatial variability of the seasonal mean of maximum air temperature in Romania and its links with the large–scale atmospheric circulation. The Romanian data sets are represented by time series at 14 stations. The large-scale parameters are represented by the observed sea-level pressure (SLP) and geopotential height at 500 hPa (Z500). The period analysed was 1922–98 for winter and 1960–98 for all seasons. Before analysis, the original temperature data were tested to detect for inhomogeneity using the standard normal homogeneity test. Empirical orthogonal functions (EOFs) were used to analyse the spatial and temporal variability of the local and large-scale parameters and to eliminate noise from the original data set. The time series associated with the first EOF pattern of the SLP and mean maximum temperature in Romania were analysed from trend and shifts point of view using the Pettitt and Mann–Kendall tests respectively. The covariance map computed using the Z500 and the seasonal mean of maximum temperature in Romania were used as additional methods to identify the large-scale circulation patterns influencing the local variability.
Significant increasing trends were found for winter and summer mean maximum temperature in Romania, with upward shifts around 1947 and 1985 respectively. During autumn, a decreasing trend with a downward shift around 1969 was detected. These changes seem to be real, since they are connected to similar changes in the large-scale circulation. So, the intensification of the southwesterly circulation over Europe since 1933 overlapped with the enhancement of westerly circulation after the 1940s could be the reason for the change in winter mean maximum temperature. The slight weakening of the southwesterly circulation during autumn could be one of the reasons for the decrease in the regime of the mean maximum temperature for autumn seasons. Additionally, the covariance map technique reveals the influence of the North Atlantic oscillation in winter, East Atlantic Jet in summer and Scandinavian (or Euroasia-1) circulation pattern in autumn upon mean maximum air temperature. Copyright © 2002 Royal Meteorological Society.