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Journal Articles Environmental Research Letters Year : 2023

Persistent anticyclonic conditions and climate change exacerbated the exceptional 2022 European-Mediterranean drought

Abstract

A prolonged drought affected Western Europe and the Mediterranean region in 2022 producing large socio-ecological impacts. The role of anthropogenic climate change (ACC) in exacerbating this drought has been often invoked in the public debate, but the link between atmospheric circulation and ACC has not received much attention so far. Here we address this question by applying the method of circulation analogs, which allows us to identify atmospheric patterns in the period 1836-2021 very similar to those occurred in 2022. By comparing the circulation analogs when global warming was absent (1836-1915) with those occurred recently (1942-2021), and by excluding interannual and interdecadal variability as possible drivers, we identify the contribution of ACC. The 2022 drought was associated with a persistent anticyclonic anomaly over Western Europe. Circulation analogs of this atmospheric pattern in 1941-2021 feature 500 hPa geopotential height anomalies larger in both extent and magnitude, and higher temperatures at the surface, relative to those in 1836-1915. Both factors exacerbated the drought, by increasing the area affected and enhancing soil drying through evapotranspiration. While the occurrence of the atmospheric circulation associated with the 2022 drought has not become more frequent in recent decades, the influence of the Atlantic Multidecadal oscillation cannot be ruled-out.
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Dates and versions

hal-03907855 , version 1 (20-12-2022)
hal-03907855 , version 2 (13-02-2023)
hal-03907855 , version 3 (24-03-2023)

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Davide Faranda, Salvatore Pascale, Burak Bulut. Persistent anticyclonic conditions and climate change exacerbated the exceptional 2022 European-Mediterranean drought. Environmental Research Letters, 2023, 18 (3), pp.034030. ⟨10.1088/1748-9326/acbc37⟩. ⟨hal-03907855v3⟩
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