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The spatio-temporal influence of atmospheric circulations on monthly precipitation in Great Britain

West, Harry; White, Paul; Quinn, Nevil; Horswell, Michael


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Mr Harry West
Senior Lecturer in Geography & Environmental Management

Paul White
Professor in Applied Statistics


It has long been understood that the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) is a key driver of regional climate in Great Britain and across Europe. However, studies have also noted that there is spatio-temporal variability in NAO-rainfall signatures which arguably limits its practical inclusion in water management. In this study we quantify, at high spatio-temporal resolution, the influence of a broader set of atmospheric circulations on monthly precipitation. Using Standardised Precipitation Indices for the Integrated Hydrological Unit (IHU) Groups of Great Britain we apply univariate and multivariate regression models to understand the potential of five atmospheric circulation indices to explain precipitation variability. As far as we are aware this represents the first high spatial and temporal resolution analysis quantifying the influence of a broad set of atmospheric circulations, both individually and in combination. We highlight the influence of each circulation and establish that the NAO only partially explains precipitation variability, especially in the southern regions and during the summer months, where circulations, such as the East Atlantic Pattern, also have an important influence. In summary, we suggest that there is significant explanatory value in looking beyond the NAO when seeking to understand hydroclimatological variability in Great Britain, and there is potential for future work to explore how this understanding can translate into the practical application of atmospheric circulation indices in water management.


West, H., White, P., Quinn, N., & Horswell, M. (2022). The spatio-temporal influence of atmospheric circulations on monthly precipitation in Great Britain. Atmosphere, 13(3), Article 429.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 6, 2022
Online Publication Date Mar 7, 2022
Publication Date Mar 7, 2022
Deposit Date Mar 7, 2022
Publicly Available Date Mar 8, 2022
Journal Atmosphere
Electronic ISSN 2073-4433
Publisher MDPI
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 13
Issue 3
Article Number 429
Public URL
Publisher URL


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