The effect of heat waves and drought on surface wind circulations in the Northeast of the Iberian Peninsula during the summer of 2003

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Variations in the diurnal wind pattern associated with heat waves and drought conditions are investigated climatologically at a regional level (northeast of the Iberian Peninsula). The study, based on high-density observational evidence and fine spatial-scale mesoscale modeling for the 1992-2004 period, shows that wind speed can decrease up to 22% under situations characterized by extremely high temperatures and severe drought, such as the European summer of 2003. By examining the role of the different atmospheric scales of motion that determine the wind diurnal variability, it is found that the 2003 synoptic conditions are the main driver for changes in the wind speed field. In turn, these changes are modulated by mesoscale circulations influenced by the soil moisture availability. The results have implications for broad regional modeling studies of current climate and climate change simulations in as much as the study demonstrates that a correct representation of local soil moisture conditions impacts atmospheric circulation and therefore the regional climate state.
© 2011 American Meteorological Society. The National Center for Atmospheric Research is sponsored by the National Science Foundation.We thank the Navarra government and the ECMWF for providing us with the datasets used in this study. This investigation was partially supported by Projects CGL-2008-05093/CLI and PSE-120000-2008-9 and was accomplished within the Collaboration Agreement 09/490 between CIEMAT and NCAR as well as the Collaboration Agreement 09/153 between CIEMAT and UCM. We also thank the reviewers for their helpful comments.
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