Precipitation variability and changes in the greater Alpine region over the 1800–2003 period

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Abstract

[1] The paper investigates precipitation variability in the greater Alpine region (GAR) (4–19°E, 43–49°N) based on 192 instrumental series of homogenized and outlier checked monthly precipitation and on the 1° gridded version of the same data set. Compared to the previous data sets, the one used in this paper adds a full century of data (earliest series starting in 1800) by exploiting the early instrumental period as much as possible in terms of series length and spatial density. The records were clustered into climatically homogeneous subregions, by means of a principal component analysis, and average subregional series were calculated. The principal component analysis was applied also in T-mode to investigate the most recursive precipitation patterns that characterize the examined area. Yearly and seasonal trend analysis was performed both on subregional average series and on the mean GAR series. It was also applied to moving windows, of variable width ranging from 2 decades to 2 centuries, in order to investigate any trends over decadal to secular timescales. Beside trends in total precipitation, precipitation seasonality was also analyzed as an important indicator of climate changes. Links between precipitation variability in the Alpine region and atmospheric circulation, and the North Atlantic Oscillation in particular, were also studied.

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