Sensitivity of two Iberian lakes to North Atlantic atmospheric circulation modes

Hernández A., Trigo R. M., Pla-Rabes S., Blas L., Valero-Garcés, Jerez S., Rico-Herrero M., Vega J. C., Jambrina-Enríquez M., Giralt S.
Climate Dynamics, 45, 3403-3417. doi: 10.1007/s00382-015-2547-8

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The North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) exerts a major influence on the climate of the North Atlantic region. However, other atmospheric circulation modes (ACMs), such as the East Atlantic (EA) and Scandinavian (SCAND) patterns, also play significant roles. The dynamics of lakes on the Iberian Peninsula are greatly controlled by climatic parameters, but their relationship with these various ACMs has not been investigated in detail. In this paper, we analyze monthly meteorological and limnological long-term datasets (1950–2011 and 1992–2011, respectively) from two lakes on the northern and central Iberian Peninsula (Sanabria and Las Madres) to develop an understanding of the seasonal sensitivity of these freshwater systems to the NAO, EA and SCAND circulation modes. The limnological variability within Lake Sanabria is primarily controlled by fluctuations in the seasonal precipitation and wind, and the primary ACMs associated with the winter limnological processes are the NAO and the SCAND modes, whereas only the EA mode appears to weakly influence processes during the summer. However, Lake Las Madres is affected by precipitation, wind and, to a lesser extent, temperature, whereas the ACMs have less influence. Therefore, we aim to show that the lakes of the Iberian Peninsula are sensitive to these ACMs. The results presented here indicate that the lake dynamics, in some cases, have a higher sensitivity to variations in the ACMs than single local meteorological variables. However, certain local features, such as geography, lake morphology and anthropic influences, are crucial to properly record the signals of these ACMs.