Articles | Volume 12, issue 2
Research article
18 Feb 2016
Research article |  | 18 Feb 2016

Variability of daily winter wind speed distribution over Northern Europe during the past millennium in regional and global climate simulations

Svenja E. Bierstedt, Birgit Hünicke, Eduardo Zorita, Sebastian Wagner, and Juan José Gómez-Navarro

Abstract. We analyse the variability of the probability distribution of daily wind speed in wintertime over Northern and Central Europe in a series of global and regional climate simulations covering the last centuries, and in reanalysis products covering approximately the last 60 years. The focus of the study lies on identifying the link of the variations in the wind speed distribution to the regional near-surface temperature, to the meridional temperature gradient and to the North Atlantic Oscillation.

Our main result is that the link between the daily wind distribution and the regional climate drivers is strongly model dependent. The global models tend to behave similarly, although they show some discrepancies. The two regional models also tend to behave similarly to each other, but surprisingly the results derived from each regional model strongly deviates from the results derived from its driving global model. In addition, considering multi-centennial timescales, we find in two global simulations a long-term tendency for the probability distribution of daily wind speed to widen through the last centuries. The cause for this widening is likely the effect of the deforestation prescribed in these simulations.

We conclude that no clear systematic relationship between the mean temperature, the temperature gradient and/or the North Atlantic Oscillation, with the daily wind speed statistics can be inferred from these simulations. The understanding of past and future changes in the distribution of wind speeds, and thus of wind speed extremes, will require a detailed analysis of the representation of the interaction between large-scale and small-scale dynamics.