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CR 13:173-191 (1999)  -  doi:10.3354/cr013173

Air flow influences on local climate: observed and simulated mean relationships for the United Kingdom

Timothy J. Osborn1,*, Declan Conway1, Mike Hulme1, Jonathan M. Gregory2, Philip D. Jones1

1Climatic Research Unit, School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich NR4 7TJ, United Kingdom
2Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research, Meteorological Office, London Road, Bracknell RG12 2SZ, United Kingdom

ABSTRACT: Synoptic-scale air flow variability over the United Kingdom is measured on a daily time scale by following previous work to define 3 indices: geostrophic flow strength, vorticity and direction. Comparing the observed distribution of air flow index values with those determined from a simulation with the Hadley Centre's global climate model (HadCM2) identifies some minor systematic biases in the model's synoptic circulation but demonstrates that the major features are well simulated. The relationship between temperature and precipitation from parts of the United Kingdom and these air flow indices (either singly or in pairs) is found to be very similar in both the observations and model output; indeed the simulated and observed precipitation relationships are found to be almost interchangeable in a quantitative sense. These encouraging results imply that some reliability can be assumed for single grid-box and regional output from this climate model; this applies only to those grid boxes evaluated here (which do not have high or complex orography), only to the portion of variability that is controlled by synoptic air flow variations, and only to those surface variables considered here (temperature and precipitation).

KEY WORDS: UK Climate · Synoptic circulation · Climate model evaluation · HadCM2

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