Links between large-scale circulation patterns and streamflow in Central Europe: A review

Journal of Hydrology | Steirou et al. [2017]


We disentangle the relationships between streamflow and large-scale atmospheric circulation in Central Europe (CE), an area affected by climatic influences from different origins (Atlantic, Mediterranean and Continental) and characterized by diverse topography and flow regimes. Our literature review examines in detail the links between mean, high and low flows in CE and large-scale circulation patterns, with focus on two closely related phenomena, the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) and the Western-zonal circulation (WC). For both patterns, significant relations, consistent between different studies, are found for large parts of CE. The strongest links are found for the winter season, forming a dipole-like pattern with positive relationships with streamflow north of the Alps and the Carpathians for both indices and negative relationships for the NAO in the south. An influence of winter NAO is also detected in the amplitude and timing of snowmelt flows later in the year. Discharge in CE has further been linked to other large-scale climatic modes such as the Scandinavia pattern (SCA), the East Atlantic/West Russian pattern (EA/WR), the El NiƱo-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and synoptic weather patterns such as the Vb weather regime. Different mechanisms suggested in the literature to modulate links between streamflow and the NAO are combined with topographical characteristics of the target area in order to explain the divergent NAO/WC influence on streamflow in different parts of CE. In particular, a precipitation mechanism seems to regulate winter flows in North-Western Germany, an area with short duration of snow cover and with rainfall-generated floods. The precipitation mechanism is also likely in Southern CE, where correlations between the NAO and temperature are low. Finally, in the rest of the study area (Northern CE, Alpine region), a joint precipitation-snow mechanism influences floods not only in winter, but also in the spring/snowmelt period, providing some possibilities for flood forecasting.

Full text can be found here.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s