Articles | Volume 21, issue 3
31 Mar 2003
 | 31 Mar 2003

Detecting quasi-oscillations in the monthly precipitation regimes of the Iberian Peninsula

L. Morala, A. Serrano, and J. A. Garcia

Abstract. A spectral analysis of the time series corresponding to the main monthly precipitation regimes of the Iberian Peninsula was performed using two methods, the Multi-Taper Method and Monte Carlo Singular Spectrum Analysis. The Multi-Taper Method gave a preliminary view of the presence of signals in some of the time series. Monte Carlo Singular Spectrum Analysis discriminated between potential oscillations and noise.

From the results of the two methods it is concluded that there exist three significant quasi-oscillations at the 95% level of confidence: a 5.0 year quasi-oscillation and a long-term trend in the Atlantic pattern of March, a 3.2 year quasi-oscillation in the Cantabrian pattern of January, and a 4.0 year quasi-oscillation in the Catalonian pattern of February. These quasi-oscillations might be related to climatic variations with similar periodicities over the North Atlantic Ocean.

The possible simultaneity of high values of precipitation generated by the significant quasi-oscillations and high sea–level pressures was studied by means of composite maps. It was found that high values of precipitation generated by the oscillations of the Atlantic patterns of January and March exist simultaneously with a specific high pressure structure over the North Atlantic Ocean, that allow cyclonic perturbations to cross the Iberian Peninsula. During the non-wet years, this high pressure structure moves northwards, keeping the track of the low pressure centers to the north, far from the Iberian Peninsula.

On the other hand, high values of precipitation generated by the oscillation of the Cantabrian pattern of January exist simultaneously with a high pressure structure over the Galicia region and the Cantabrian Sea, that allow a northerly flow over the region. Also, a positive trend in the NAO index for March has been found, starting in the sixties, which is not evident for other winter months. This trend agrees with the decreasing trend found in the March Atlantic pattern.

Key words. Meteorology and atmospheric dynamics (climatology; precipitation) Oceanography: general (climate and interannual variability)