Atlantic origin of asynchronous European interdecadal hydroclimate variability

Sci Rep. 2019 Jul 29;9(1):10998. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-47428-6.


Discharge time series of major large-catchment European rivers are known to display significant decadal and interdecadal fluctuations. However, the hydroclimate variability causing such fluctuations remains poorly understood, particularly due to a lack of a spatio-temporal integrated assessment. Here, we demonstrate for the first time that European hydroclimate variability is dominated by a meridional delayed oscillation characterized by a lag of approximately 5 years in interdecadal discharge fluctuations of continental (northern) European rivers with respect to those of Euro-Mediterranean (southern) rivers. We demonstrate a connection of this coherent signal with the large-scale atmospheric circulation over the North Atlantic, and suggest a hitherto unexplored multiannual atmosphere-ocean mechanism in the subpolar North Atlantic at its root.