For attributing hydrological changes to anthropogenic climate change, catchment models are driven by climate model output. A widespread approach to bridge the spatial gap between global climate and hydrological catchment models is to use a weather generator conditioned on weather patterns (WPs). This approach assumes that changes in local climate are characterized by between‐type changes of patterns. In this study we test this assumption by analyzing a previously developed WP classification for the Rhine basin, which is based on dynamic and thermodynamic variables. We quantify changes in pattern characteristics and associated climatic properties. The amount of between‐ and within‐type changes is investigated by comparing observed trends to trends resulting solely from WP occurrence. To overcome uncertainties in trend detection resulting from the selected time period, all possible periods in 1901–2010 with a minimum length of 31 years are analyzed. Increasing frequency is found for some patterns associated with high precipitation, although the trend sign highly depends on the considered period. Trends and interannual variations of WP frequencies are related to the long‐term variability of large‐scale circulation modes. Long‐term WP internal warming is evident for summer patterns and enhanced warming for spring/autumn patterns since the 1970s. Observed trends in temperature and partly in precipitation are mainly associated with frequency changes of specific WPs, but some amount of within‐type changes remains. The classification can be used for downscaling of past changes considering this limitation, but the inclusion of thermodynamic variables into the classification impedes the downscaling of future climate projections.
Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres – Wiley
Published: Jan 16, 2018
Keywords: ; ; ; ;
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