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Regional rainfall response to the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) across Great Britain

West, Harry; Quinn, Nevil; Horswell, Michael


Nevil Quinn
Associate Professor in Applied Hydrology


The NAO has been long studied as the primary teleconnection affecting British and European climate. However, previous studies have focused on extremes or have been spatially and temporally limited. In recent years our ability to predict the NAO has improved. Also new research is emerging suggesting that the NAO is a key driver of hydrological extremes. These factors mean there is renewed value in enhancing our understanding of how the NAO influences general rainfall patterns. In this study we spatially analyse correlations between NAO indices and monthly rainfall data and the Standardised Precipitation Index. We also map mean monthly rainfall differences under NAO positive and negative conditions. Based on our results we identify three main observations: (I) there is sensitivity in the rainfall patterns to the chosen NAO index; (II) there is a clear winter north/west and south/east divide in rainfall patterns; (III) the NAO does have an effect on summer rainfall patterns, although the spatiality of these patterns is less distinctive than in winter. As far as we are aware this is the first national scale, monthly NAO-rainfall analysis undertaken for a long period.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Dec 1, 2019
Journal Hydrology Research
Print ISSN 0029-1277
Publisher IWA Publishing
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 50
Issue 6
Pages 1549-1563
APA6 Citation West, H., Quinn, N., & Horswell, M. (2019). Regional rainfall response to the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) across Great Britain. Hydrology Research, 50(6), 1549-1563.
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