Winter 2010 in Europe: A cold extreme in a warming climate



[1] The winter of 2009/2010 was characterized by record persistence of the negative phase of the North-Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) which caused several severe cold spells over Northern and Western Europe. This somehow unusual winter with respect to the most recent ones arose concurrently with public debate on climate change, during and after the Copenhagen climate negotiations. We show however that the cold European temperature anomaly of winter 2010 was (i) not extreme relative to winters of the past six decades, and (ii) warmer than expected from its record-breaking seasonal circulation indices such as NAO or blocking frequency. Daily flow-analogues of winter 2010, taken in past winters, were associated with much colder temperatures. The winter 2010 thus provides a consistent picture of a regional cold event mitigated by long-term climate warming.