Euro-Mediterranean climate variability in boreal winter: a potential role of the East Asian trough

  • Omer Lutfi SenEmail author
  • Yasemin Ezber
  • Deniz Bozkurt


Euro-Mediterranean climate variability has been associated mostly with the upstream atmospheric circulation and teleconnection patterns, the North Atlantic Oscillation and European blocking being the main ones. This study shows, for the first time, that the East Asian trough (EAT), a prominent circulation feature of the mid-troposphere in the downstream side, might exert a strong and significant role on the interannual variability of the Euro-Mediterranean climate during boreal winters. We performed empirical orthogonal function analysis on the regions of the EAT and Mediterranean trough (MedT), an important system modulating the climate of the region, to obtain the respective dominant modes of variability at 500-hPa geopotential heights. It appears that the leading modes, the intensity in the case of the EAT and the zonal displacement in the case of the MedT, are significantly correlated with each other (r = − 0.64, p < 0.001). Consequently, when the EAT is strong (weak), the MedT is observed in the west (east) of its climatological location resulting in a warmer (cooler) Middle East and northeastern Africa, a cooler (warmer) western Europe and northwestern Africa, and wetter (dryer) Italian, Balkan and Anatolian peninsulas. Given the fact that the EAT is also a key determinant of the East Asian winter climate, the identified mid-tropospheric link between East Asia and Mediterranean could help interpret some temperature and precipitation co-variability on the opposite sides of the Eurasian continent. We suggest that studies involving the Euro-Mediterranean climate should also consider the role of the EAT as it seems to be a potential driver of the year-to-year, perhaps longer-term, climate variability in the region.


Surface air temperature Precipitation Interannual variability EOF analysis Composite analysis 



This study was partially supported by a grant from the Istanbul Technical University (ITU-BAP grant #40836). ERA Interim Reanalysis data provided by ECMWF from their Web site at


  1. Alpert P, Baldi M, Ilani R, Krichak SO, Price C, Rodo X, Saaroni H, Ziv B, Kishcha P, Barkan J, Mariotti A, Xoplaki E (2006) Relations between climate variability in the Mediterranean region and the tropics: ENSO, South Asian and African monsoons, hurricanes and Saharan dust. In: Lionello P, Malanotte-Rizzoli P, Boscolo R (eds) Mediterranean climate variability, 4. Elsevier, Amsterdam, pp 149–177Google Scholar
  2. Buehler T, Raible CC, Stocker TF (2009) The relationship of winter season North Atlantic blocking frequencies to extreme cold or dry spells in the ERA-40. Tellus 63A:212–222Google Scholar
  3. Chen Z, Wu R, Chen W (2014) Distinguishing interannual variations of the northern and southern modes of the East Asian winter monsoon. J Clim 27:835–851CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Cheng H et al (2015) The climate variability in northern Levant over the past 20,000 years. Geophys Res Lett 42:8641–8650CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cheung HN, Zhou W (2016) Simple metrics for representing East Asian winter monsoon variability: ural blocking and western Pacific teleconnection pattern. Adv Atmos Sci 33:695–705CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cheung HN, Zhou W, Mok HY, Wu MC (2012) Relationship between Ural-Siberian blocking and the East Asian winter monsoon in relation to the Arctic Oscillation and the El Nio/Southern Oscillation. J Clim 25:4242–4257CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cheung HN, Zhou W, Lee SM, Tong HW (2015) Interannual and interdecadal variability of the number of cold days in Hong Kong and their relationship with large-scale circulation. Mon Weather Rev 143:1438–1454CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cohen J et al (2014) Arctic amplification and extreme mid-latitude weather. Nat Geosci 7:627–637CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cook BI, Anchukaitis KJ, Touchan R, Meko DM, Cook ER (2016) Spatiotemporal drought variability in the Mediterranean over the last 900 years. J Geophys Res Atmos 121:2060–2074CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Dee DP et al (2011) The ERA-Interim reanalysis: configuration and performance of the data assimilation system. QJR Meteorol Soc 137:553–597CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Demirtas M (2017) The large-scale environment of the European 2012 high-impact cold wave: prolonged upstream and downstream atmospheric blocking. Weather 72(10):297–301CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Diao Y, Xie S, Luo D (2015) Asymmetry of winter European surface air temperature extremes and the North Atlantic Oscillation. J Clim 28:517–530CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Ding Y et al (2014) Interdecadal variability of the East Asian winter monsoon and its possible links to global climate change. J Meteorol Res 28(5):693–713CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Dünkeloh A, Jacobeit J (2003) Circulation dynamics of Mediterranean precipitation variability 1948–98. Int J Climatol 23:1843–1866CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. García-Ruiz JM, López-Moreno JL, Vicente-Serrano SM, Lasanta-Martínez T, Beguería S (2011) Mediterranean water resources in a global change scenario. Earth Sci Rev 105(3–4):121–139CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Giorgi F, Lionello P (2008) Climate change projections for the Mediterranean region. Glob Planet Change 63(2–3):90–104CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Gong D-Y, Wang S-W, Zhu J-H (2001) East Asian winter monsoon and Arctic Oscillation. Geophys Res Lett 28:2073–2076CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Grotjahn R et al (2016) North American extreme temperature events and related large scale meteorological patterns: a review of statistical methods, dynamics, modeling, and trends. Clim Dyn 46:1151–1184CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hatzaki M, Flocas HA, Giannakopoulos C, Maheras P (2009) The impact of the eastern Mediterranean teleconnection pattern on the Mediterranean climate. J Clim 22(4):977–992CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hoerling M, Eischeid J, Perlwitz J, Quan X, Zhang T, Pegion P (2012) On the increased frequency of Mediterranean drought. J Clim 25(6):2146–2161CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hurrell JW (1995) Decadal trends in the North Atlantic Oscillations: regional temperatures and precipitation. Science 269:676–679CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Kelley CP, Mohtadi S, Cane MA, Seager R, Kushnir Y (2015) Climate change in the Fertile Crescent and implications of the recent Syrian drought. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 112(11):3241–3246CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Krichak SO, Breitgand JS, Gualdi S, Feldstein SB (2014) Teleconnection-extreme precipitation relationships over the Mediterranean region. Theor Appl Climatol 117:679–692CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Kushnir Y, Wallace JM (1989) Interaction of low-frequency and high-frequency transients in a forecast experiment with a general-circulation model. J Atmos Sci 46(10):1411–1418CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Leung YT, Zhou W (2015) Variation of circulation and East Asian climate associated with anomalous strength and displacement of the East Asian trough. Clim Dyn 45:2713–2732CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Ljungqvist FC, Krusic PJ, Sundqvist HS, Zorita E, Brattström G, Frank D (2016) Northern Hemisphere hydroclimate variability over the past twelve centuries. Nature 532:94–98CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Lolis CJ, Türkeş M (2016) Atmospheric circulation characteristics favouring extreme precipitation in Turkey. Clim Res 71:139–153CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Luo D, Yao Y, Dai A, Feldstein SB (2015) The positive North Atlantic Oscillation with downstream blocking and middle east snowstorms: the large-scale environment. J Clim 28:6398–6418CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Mariotti A, Zeng N, Lau K-M (2002) Euro-Mediterranean rainfall and ENSO—a seasonally varying relationship. Geophys Res Lett 29:1621. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Nakamura H, Miyasaka T, Kosaka Y, Takaya K, Honda M (2010) Northern Hemisphere extratropical tropospheric planetary waves and their low-frequency variability: their vertical structure and interaction with transient eddies and surface thermal contrasts in climate dynamics: why does climate vary? Geophys Monogr Am Geophys Union 189:149–179Google Scholar
  31. Park TW, Ho CH, Deng Y (2014) A synoptic and dynamical characterization of wave-train and blocking cold surge over East Asia. Clim Dyn 43(3–4):753–770CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Price C, Stone L, Rajagopalan B, Alpert P (1998) A possible link between El Nino and precipitation in Israel. Geophys Res Lett 25:3963–3966CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Rezaeian M, Mohebalhojeh AR, Ahmadi-Givi F, Nasr-Esfahany MA (2016) A wave-activity view of the relation between the Mediterranean storm track and the North Atlantic Oscillation in winter. QJR Meteorol Soc 142:1662–1671CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Şahin S, Türkeş M, Wang SH, Hannah D, Eastwood W (2015) Large scale moisture flux characteristics of the Mediterranean basin and their relationships with drier and wetter climate conditions. Clim Dyn 45:3381–3401CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Seager R, Liu H, Henderson N, Simpson I, Kelley C, Shaw T, Kushnir Y, Ting M (2014) Causes of increasing aridification of the Mediterranean region in response to rising greenhouse gases. J Clim 27(12):4655–4676CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Shaman J, Tzipperman E (2011) An Atmospheric teleconnection linking ENSO and Southwestern European precipitation. J Clim 24:124–139CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Song L, Wang L, Chen W, Zhang Y (2016) Intraseasonal variation of the strength of the East Asian trough and its climatic impacts in boreal winter. J Clim 29:2557–2577CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Sun S, Sun B (1995) The relationship between the anomalous winter monsoon circulation over East Asia and summer drought/flooding in the Yangtze River and Huaihe River valley. Acta Meteorol Sin 53(4):513–522Google Scholar
  39. Thompson DWJ, Wallace JM (2001) Regional climate impacts of the Northern Hemisphere Annular Mode. Science 293(5527):85–89CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Türkes M (2010) Climatology and meteorology, 1st edn. Kriter Publisher-Publication No. 63, Physical Geography Series No. 1, Istanbul. ISBN: 978-605-5863-39-6 (in Turkish) Google Scholar
  41. Visbeck MH, Hurrell JW, Polvani L, Cullen HM (2001) The North Atlantic Oscillation: past present, and future. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 98:12876–12877CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Wang L (2014) Stationary wave activity associated with the East Asian winter monsoon pathway. Atmos Ocean Sci Lett 7:7–10CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Wang L, Chen W, Zhou W, Huang RH (2009) Interannual variations of East Asian trough axis at 500 hPa and its association with the East Asian winter monsoon pathway. J Clim 22:600–614CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Wang B, Wu Z, Chang C-P, Liu J, Li J, Zhou T (2010) Another look at interannual to interdecadal variations of the East Asian winter monsoon: the northern and southern temperature modes. J Clim 23:1495–1512CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Xoplaki E, González-Rouco JF, Luterbacher J, Wanner H (2004) Wet season Mediterranean precipitation variability: influence of large-scale dynamics and predictability. Clim Dyn 23:63–78CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Yao Y, Luo D, Dai A, Feldstein SB (2016) The positive North Atlantic Oscillation with downstream blocking and middle east snowstorms: impacts of the North Atlantic Jet. J Clim 29:1853–1876CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Zhou W, Chan JC, Chen W, Ling J, Pinto JG, Shao Y (2009) Synoptic-scale controls of persistent low temperature and icy weather over southern China in January 2008. Mon Weather Rev 137(11):3978–3991CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Ziv B, Dayan U, Kushnir Y, Roth C, Enzel Y (2006) Regional and global atmospheric patterns governing rainfall in the southern Levant. Int J Climatol 26:55–73CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Eurasia Institute of Earth SciencesIstanbul Technical UniversityIstanbulTurkey
  2. 2.Center for Climate and Resilience ResearchUniversity of ChileSantiagoChile

Personalised recommendations