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Fig. 1 Different NAO phases (http://www.climate.gov) and location of the studied sites

NAO

negative    positive

mode

The mailn goal of the NAOSIPUK project is to reconstruct the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) for the Holocene. Several Holocene climatic records are being studied in two areas with different NAO responses: Southern Iberian Peninsula and Northern UK (Fig. 1). Different approaches will be carried out to reconstruct the past environments of the different studied sites. Among these, pollen and charcoal studies, organic and inorganic geochemistry analyses, sedimentary and geophysical surveys will be of great importance.

Why is it important to study the NAO in the past?


At present and during the last hundred years it has been one major climate mode that naturally affects weather and climate patterns across Europe (Hurrell, 1995, and references therein). These oscillations have important economic and social consequences for the future of impacted regions, regarding changes in agricultural harvests, water management, energy supply and demand, and fishery yields (Hurrell et al. 2003).


The NAO is caused by the difference between surface sea-level pressure of the Subtropical (Azores) High and the Subpolar Low. The NAO has two modes. In the positive mode, enhanced zonal westerlies from the North Atlantic provide warm and moist air across northern Europe, with dry conditions over southern Europe (Fig. 1) (Hurrell et al., 2003). The negative mode reflects more meridional atmospheric flow with a shift to cold and dry conditions in northern Europe and warm and wet conditions in southern Europe (Fig. 1). In this way, high latitude sites like the UK, usually receive more rainfall and experience more frequent extreme wet weather events such as flooding; while lower latitudes like southern Spain, experience drier conditions and more severe drought events during NAO positive conditions.


Therefore, the comparison of high resolution Holocene records from regions that display an opposite response to the NAO modes can be used as natural analogues for present and futures scenarios.