Time Scales and Sources of European Temperature Variability
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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- Geophysical Institute 
Skillful predictions of continental climate would be of great practical benefit for society and stakeholders. It nevertheless remains fundamentally unresolved to what extent climate is predictable, for what features, at what time scales, and by which mechanisms. Here we identify the dominant time scales and sources of European surface air temperature (SAT) variability during the cold season using a coupled climate reanalysis, and a statistical method that estimates SAT variability due to atmospheric circulation anomalies. We find that eastern Europe is dominated by subdecadal SAT variability associated with the North Atlantic Oscillation, whereas interdecadal and multidecadal SAT variability over northern and southern Europe are thermodynamically driven by ocean temperature anomalies. Our results provide evidence that temperature anomalies in the North Atlantic Ocean are advected over land by the mean westerly winds and, hence, provide a mechanism through which ocean temperature controls the variability and provides predictability of European SAT.