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See detailÉtude des changements de circulation au-dessus de l'océan Austral en été
Belleflamme, Alexandre ULg; Fettweis, Xavier ULg; Erpicum, Michel ULg

in Camberlin, Pierre; Richard, Yves (Eds.) Actes du XXVIIème colloque de l'Association de Climatologie - Climat : système & interactions (2014, June)

Over the five last decades, the reanalyses (ERA and NCEP/NCAR) show a strengthening of the pressure gradient between the southern hemisphere subtropical anticyclone belt and the southern circumpolar lows ... [more ▼]

Over the five last decades, the reanalyses (ERA and NCEP/NCAR) show a strengthening of the pressure gradient between the southern hemisphere subtropical anticyclone belt and the southern circumpolar lows during summer. With the help of an automatic circulation type classification, we show that the strengthening of the pressure gradient is generalised to all circulation types and, paradoxically, it does not cause circulation changes. It is probably implied by the strengthening of the temperature gradient between the tropics and the South Pole, without consequences on the general circulation. Our classification also allows a successful comparison between the two reanalyses in a region where the observation data are rare. [less ▲]

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See detailDo global warming-induced circulation pattern changes affect temperature and precipitation over Europe during summer?
Belleflamme, Alexandre ULg; Fettweis, Xavier ULg; Erpicum, Michel ULg

in International Journal of Climatology (2014)

Future climate change projections are not limited to a simple warming, but changes in precipitation and sea level pressure (SLP) are also projected. The SLP changes and the associated atmospheric ... [more ▼]

Future climate change projections are not limited to a simple warming, but changes in precipitation and sea level pressure (SLP) are also projected. The SLP changes and the associated atmospheric circulation changes could directly mitigate or enhance potential projected changes in temperature and precipitation associated with rising temperatures. With the aim of analysing the projected circulation changes and their possible impacts on temperature and precipitation over Europe in summer [June–July–August (JJA)], we apply an automatic circulation type classification method, based on daily SLP, on general circulation model (GCM) outputs from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 5 (CMIP5) database over the historical period (1951–2005) and for climate under two future scenarios (2006–2100). We focus on summer as it is the season when changes in temperature and precipitation have the highest impact on human health and agriculture. Over the historical observed reference period (1960–1999), our results show that most of the GCMs have significant biases over Europe when compared to reanalysis data sets, both for simulating the observed circulation types and their frequencies, as well as for reproducing the intraclass means of the studied variables. The future projections suggest a decrease of circulation types favouring a low centred over the British Isles for the benefit of more anticyclonic conditions. These circulation changes mitigate the projected precipitation increase over north-western Europe in summer, but they do not significantly affect the projected temperature increase and the precipitation decrease over the Mediterranean region and eastern Europe. However, the circulation changes and the associated precipitation changes are tarnished by a high uncertainty among the GCM projections. [less ▲]

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See detailImportant role of the mid-tropospheric atmospheric circulation in the recent surface melt increase over the Greenland ice sheet
Fettweis, Xavier ULg; Hanna, Edward; Lang, Charlotte ULg et al

in Cryosphere (The) (2013), 7

Since 2007, there has been a series of surface melt records over the Greenland ice sheet (GrIS), continuing the trend towards increased melt observed since the end of the 1990's. The last two decades are ... [more ▼]

Since 2007, there has been a series of surface melt records over the Greenland ice sheet (GrIS), continuing the trend towards increased melt observed since the end of the 1990's. The last two decades are characterized by an increase of negative phases of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) favouring warmer and drier summers than normal over GrIS. In this context, we use a circulation type classification based on daily 500 hPa geopotential height to evaluate the role of atmospheric dynamics in this surface melt acceleration for the last two decades. Due to the lack of direct observations, the interannual melt variability is gauged here by the summer (June–July–August) mean temperature from reanalyses at 700 hPa over Greenland; analogous atmospheric circulations in the past show that ~70% of the 1993–2012 warming at 700 hPa over Greenland has been driven by changes in the atmospheric flow frequencies. Indeed, the occurrence of anticyclones centred over the GrIS at the surface and at 500 hPa has doubled since the end of 1990's, which induces more frequent southerly warm air advection along the western Greenland coast and over the neighbouring Canadian Arctic Archipelago (CAA). These changes in the NAO modes explain also why no significant warming has been observed these last summers over Svalbard, where northerly atmospheric flows are twice as frequent as before. Therefore, the recent warmer summers over GrIS and CAA cannot be considered as a long-term climate warming but are more a consequence of NAO variability affecting atmospheric heat transport. Although no global model from the CMIP5 database projects subsequent significant changes in NAO through this century, we cannot exclude the possibility that the observed NAO changes are due to global warming. [less ▲]

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See detailCurrent and future atmospheric circulation at 500 hPa over Greenland simulated by the CMIP3 and CMIP5 global models
Belleflamme, Alexandre ULg; Fettweis, Xavier ULg; Lang, Charlotte ULg et al

in Climate Dynamics (2013), 41(7-8),

The Greenland ice sheet is projected to be strongly affected by global warming. These projections are either issued from downscaling methods (such as Regional Climate Models) or they come directly from ... [more ▼]

The Greenland ice sheet is projected to be strongly affected by global warming. These projections are either issued from downscaling methods (such as Regional Climate Models) or they come directly from General Circulation Models (GCMs). In this context, it is necessary to evaluate the accuracy of the daily atmospheric circulation simulated by the GCMs, since it is used as forcing for downscaling methods. Thus, we use an automatic circulation type classification based on two indices (Euclidean distance and Spearman rank correlation using the daily 500 hPa geopotential height) to evaluate the ability of the GCMs from both CMIP3 and CMIP5 databases to simulate the main circulation types over Greenland during summer. For each circulation type, the GCMs are compared to three reanalysis datasets on the basis of their frequency and persistence differences. For the current climate (1961–1990), we show that most of the GCMs do not reproduce the expected frequency and the persistence of the circulation types and that they simulate poorly the observed daily variability of the general circulation. Only a few GCMs can be used as reliable forcings for downscaling methods over Greenland. Finally, when applying the same approach to the future projections of the GCMs, no significant change in the atmospheric circulation over Greenland is detected, besides a generalised increase of the geopotential height due to a uniform warming of the atmosphere. [less ▲]

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See detailLes modèles globaux projettent-ils plus de blocages anticycloniques en Europe pour le futur ?
Belleflamme, Alexandre ULg; Fettweis, Xavier ULg; Erpicum, Michel ULg

in Bigot, Sylvain; Rome, Sandra (Eds.) XXVème colloque de l'Association Internationale de Climatologie - Les climats régionaux : observation et modélisation (2012, September)

The IPCC projects more frequent and longer heat waves and droughts during summer for future over Western Europe. These extreme events occur during anticyclonic blocking events. We use atmospheric ... [more ▼]

The IPCC projects more frequent and longer heat waves and droughts during summer for future over Western Europe. These extreme events occur during anticyclonic blocking events. We use atmospheric circulation type classifications to determine if the models project an increase of the number and the persistence of these anticyclonic blockings. For recent climate, the number of blocking events depends on the ability of the models to reproduce the observed general circulation. The future projections do not show any systematic evolution of the number of anticyclonic blockings over Western Europe. Nevertheless, other changes like an increase of the temperature will lead to more frequent heat waves and droughts. [less ▲]

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See detailAre the CMIP5 GCMs able to simulate atmospheric blocking situations over Europe ?
Belleflamme, Alexandre ULg; Fettweis, Xavier ULg; Erpicum, Michel ULg

Poster (2012, April 26)

Some studies show that most General Circulation Models (GCMs) have difficulties to simulate the main observed circulation patterns and their frequencies. However, this does not only impact the GCM based ... [more ▼]

Some studies show that most General Circulation Models (GCMs) have difficulties to simulate the main observed circulation patterns and their frequencies. However, this does not only impact the GCM based projections for future climate, but also the results of downscaling methods using the circulation simulated by GCMs as forcing. Indeed, the downscaling methods are not able to correct the biases introduced by the GCM simulations in the free atmosphere. Here, we focus on the anticyclonic blocking situations over western Europe for summer (June, July and August). Indeed, these blocking situations, which are often related to droughts and heat waves, could become more frequent due to global warming. Moreover, their frequency and persistence depend on the variability of the circulation, which is known to be difficult to reproduce by the GCMs. In order to evaluate the ability of the GCMs to reproduce the observed frequency and persistence of blocking situations, we compare them with two reanalysis datasets (NCEP-NCAR 1 and ECMWF ERA-40) by using an automatic circulation type classification. The daily geopotential height at 500 hPa over the last 30 years of the current climate simulation (Historical experiment, 1976-2005) of all available CMIP5 GCMs prepared for the upcoming IPCC report AR5 is used here. The circulation type classification groups similar daily circulation situations together on basis of a leader-algorithm to obtain a few homogeneous circulation types describing the general circulation of the region. Thus, the frequency and the persistence of each circulation type can be analysed on a daily timescale. We show that the ability of the GCMs to reproduce the observed frequency and persistence of blocking situations is influenced by the anomalies in their circulation type frequency repartition. So, the GCMs which underestimate the frequency of the anticyclonic types tend to simulate less and shorter blocking situations. The contrary is observed for GCMs that overestimate the frequency of these circulation types. This rises questions about the reliability of the future projections for events related to blocking situations. Indeed, when applying the same approach as for the current climate to the future projections (experiments RCP4.5 and RCP8.5), it seems that the blocking situations become more frequent and persistent. However, when considering only the circulation patterns by removing the mean geopotential height increase due to global warming, there is no significant circulation change till 2100. This means that the GCMs conserve their circulation biases in spite of climate change and so, the frequency and the persistence of the blocking situations are projected to remain almost the same as those simulated for the current climate. [less ▲]

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See detailCirculation atmosphérique simulée par les modèles de circulation générale en Europe de l'ouest : évaluation et projections futures
Belleflamme, Alexandre ULg; Fettweis, Xavier ULg; Erpicum, Michel ULg

in Fazzini, Massimiliano; Beltrando, Gérard (Eds.) XXIVème colloque de l'Association Internationale de Climatologie - Climat montagnard et risques (2011, September)

Atmospheric circulation simulations from general circulation models are used as forcing for downscaling methods and for future projections. Thus, it is essential to evaluate them. An automatic circulation ... [more ▼]

Atmospheric circulation simulations from general circulation models are used as forcing for downscaling methods and for future projections. Thus, it is essential to evaluate them. An automatic circulation type classification is applied to daily 500 hPa geopotential height data. Firstly, the classification is done for the NCEP-NCAR 1 reanalysis, and then the main circulation types are imposed to the simulations of six general circulation models. For recent climate (20C3M scenario), it appears that most models are not able to simulate well the circulation over western Europe, due to biases in the mean geopotential height and an underestimation of the circulation variability. For future climate (A1B scenario), a general increase of the geopotential height is projected, leading to the emergence of new circulation types. [less ▲]

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See detailEstimation of the Sea Level Rise by 2100 Resulting from Changes in the Surface Mass Balance of the Greenland Ice Sheet
Fettweis, Xavier ULg; Belleflamme, Alexandre ULg; Erpicum, Michel ULg et al

in Blanco, Juan; Kheradmand, Houshang (Eds.) Climate Change - Geophysical Foundations and Ecological Effects (2011)

We present here future projections of the Greenland climate performed by the regional climate model MAR coupled with a snow model and forced by two scenarios of greenhouse gas emissions from the global ... [more ▼]

We present here future projections of the Greenland climate performed by the regional climate model MAR coupled with a snow model and forced by two scenarios of greenhouse gas emissions from the global model CanESM2 of the next IPCC assessment report (AR5). Knowing that MAR forced by CanESM2 over the current climate (1970-1999) compares well with the reference MAR simulation performed by using the ERA-40 reanalysis as forcing, this gives us confidence in our future projections. For the RCP4.5 scenario (optimistic) and respectively RCP8.5 scenario (pessimistic), MAR projects a sea level rise in 2100 of 6.5 +/- 1.5 cm and respectively 14+/-2 cm as result of increasing surface melt of the Greenland ice sheet over 2000-2100. It is true that MAR projects a small increase of snowfall in the winter because the atmosphere will be warmer and therefore can contain more water vapor. But this is not sufficient to offset the acceleration of melt, notably for the scenario RCP8.5 which projects an increase of 10 °C in 2100 above the ice sheet. This work fits in the ICE2SEA project (http://www.ice2sea.eu) of the 7th Framework Program (FP7) which aims to improve the projections of the continental ice melting contribution to sea level rise. [less ▲]

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See detailEvaluation of the present and future general circulation over western Europe simulated by the IPCC AR5/CMIP5 GCMs with the help of a circulation type classification
Belleflamme, Alexandre ULg; Fettweis, Xavier ULg; Erpicum, Michel ULg

Conference (2011, April 08)

Downscaling methods forced by General Circulation Model (GCM) simulations are not able to correct the biases in the general circulation simulated by the GCMs. Moreover, since the GCMs have a coarse ... [more ▼]

Downscaling methods forced by General Circulation Model (GCM) simulations are not able to correct the biases in the general circulation simulated by the GCMs. Moreover, since the GCMs have a coarse spatial resolution, they have difficulties to simulate reliably ground variables like temperature and precipitation which are affected by topography, land use and local features. So, we can attempt that they simulate better the large-scale atmospheric circulation. That is why it is of special interest to evaluate the GCM simulations of atmospheric circulation for current climate by comparing them with the NCEP-NCAR 1 and the ECMWF reanalysis data over 1961-1990. This analysis is done over western Europe for summer (JJA) and winter (DJF) for the GCMs (available on http://cmippcmdi.llnl.gov/cmip5/) proposed by the IPCC for its upcoming report (AR5). The method used is an automated circulation type classification based on the daily geopotential height at 500 hPa. It is a leader-algorithm correlation based method taking part of the COST733CAT classification catalogue. Unlike the usually used methods based on the monthly mean circulation, this approach allows a precise analysis of each circulation type. So, it gives much more information on the ability of the GCMs to simulate the different circulation types and consequently the climatic variability of a region. In order to allow a direct comparison between the GCM simulations and the reanalysis data, the classification is done first only for the reanalysis dataset over 1961-1990. Then, the main types individualised here are imposed for the classification of the GCM outputs. Since the circulation types are the same, the comparison between the datasets can be made on the basis of the differences of the frequency distribution throughout the classes. Moreover, the mean intraclass repartition of the circulation situations may differ from one dataset to another. So, the study of this mean and its standard deviation gives an idea of the differences between the reanalysis and the GCMs within each class. Firstly, this approach is applied to current climate (1961-1990) for evaluating the ability of the GCMs driven by the historical experiment to simulate the climate of the last decades over western Europe. In fact, if one GCM is not able to reproduce reliably the main characteristics of the current climate, its future projections may be questionable. Then, the best matching GCMs are retained and the same approach is applied to the future simulations driven by RCP concentrations or emissions (2011-2040, 2041-2070 and 2071-2100). So, the evolution of the frequency of the circulation types and maybe the appearance of new types can be analysed under climate change conditions. Moreover, it is interesting to compare the uncertainty of the current climate simulations to the projected changes for future climate. If the uncertainty is of the same order or higher than the projected changes, the reliability of the simulations for future climate may be very questionable. [less ▲]

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See detailExplanation of the extreme low surface mass balance over the Greenland ice sheet in 2010 with the help of a regional climate model and a circulation type classification.
Fettweis, Xavier ULg; van den Broeke, Michiel; van de Berg, Willem Jan et al

Conference (2011, April 06)

The regional climate models MAR and RCMO show that the surface mass balance (SMB) rate of the whole Greenland ice sheet (GrIS) is the lowest in 2010 since 50 years. This record is a combination of an ... [more ▼]

The regional climate models MAR and RCMO show that the surface mass balance (SMB) rate of the whole Greenland ice sheet (GrIS) is the lowest in 2010 since 50 years. This record is a combination of an abnormal dry year and an exceptional melt in summer confirmed by ground measurements and satellite-derived observations. An automated circulation type classification (CTC) is used for detecting anomalies in the daily atmospheric circulation at 500hPa over the Greenland ice sheet during 2010. The CTC reveals that the low snow accumulation is due to the general circulation (negative NAO index) while the record melt in summer is rather a consequence of the well known surface albedo-temperature feedback induced by - a warmer and thinner than normal snowpack above the bare ice at the end of the spring. - an earlier beginning of the melt season. - a drier summer. - an exceptional persistence of atmospheric circulations inducing warm and dry conditions over the GrIS. All these anomalies induced in summer 2010 an exceptional time exposure of bare ice areas (with a lower albedo than snow) over the GrIS which impacts the surface melt. Sensitivity experiments carried out by the MAR model allow to estimate the importance of each anomaly in the record simulated melt of summer 2010. [less ▲]

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See detailEvaluation of the present and future general circulation over Greenland simulated by the IPCC AR5/CMIP5 GCMs with the help of a circulation type classification
Belleflamme, Alexandre ULg; Fettweis, Xavier ULg; Erpicum, Michel ULg

Poster (2011, April 05)

Future projections of the Greenland ice sheet melt are based on General Circulation Model (GCM) simulations. In particular, the reliability of downscaling methods forced by these simulations depends on ... [more ▼]

Future projections of the Greenland ice sheet melt are based on General Circulation Model (GCM) simulations. In particular, the reliability of downscaling methods forced by these simulations depends on the quality of the atmospheric circulation simulated by GCMs. Therefore, it is essential to analyse and evaluate the GCMs modelled general circulation for current climate (1961-1990). Atmospheric circulation type classifications offer a very interesting approach for evaluating the GCM-based circulation at a daily time scale compared to the most used methods based only on monthly means. Indeed, the circulation type classification allows a precise and detailed analysis of each circulation type and so, it gives much more information on the ability of GCMs to simulate the different circulation types and consequently the climatic variability of a region. In fact, exceptional circulation events over Greenland, which cannot be taken into account by the monthly mean approach, have much more impact on the melt than the mean atmospheric state. Thus, an automated correlation-based atmospheric circulation type classification (CTC) is used for evaluating the new GCM outputs (available on http://cmip-pcmdi.llnl.gov/cmip5/) computed for the upcoming IPCC report (AR5). The daily geopotential height at 500 hPa simulations of the GCMs for current climate are compared to the NCEP-NCAR 1 and the ECMWF reanalysis data for the summer months (JJA), when melt is the most important. To achieve this, the classification is first done for the reanalysis data over 1961-1990 and afterwards, the types of the reanalysis based CTC are imposed for classifying the GCM datasets over 1961-1990 (from the historical experiment) to allow a direct type per type comparison based on the frequency distribution of each dataset. This approach also gives the opportunity to study the intraclass repartition differences between the reanalysis and the GCMs. After the evaluation of the GCM simulations for current climate, the future projections driven by RCP concentrations or emissions (2011-2040, 2041-2070 and 2071-2100) from the best matching GCMs are analysed in the same way. For current climate, it clearly appears that only a few GCMs are able to reproduce reliably the variability of the atmospheric circulation over Greenland during summer. The differences of frequency between the GCMs and the reanalysis are mainly due to biases of the geopotential height which is systematically over or underestimated by most GCMs and to the underestimation of the variability of the circulation by most GCMs. For future projections, no new circulation types are detected, but rather a general increase of the mean geopotential height regardless of the circulation type. It is also important to note that for many GCMs, the uncertainty of the current climate simulations (given by the differences of the classification results between the GCM simulations for current climate and the reanalysis data for the same time) are of the same order than the projected changes for future climate. Therefore, these projections may be questionable. [less ▲]

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See detailEvaluation of the Greenland ice sheet surface mass balance simulated by a regional climate model forced by some selected IPCC AR5/CMIP5 AOGCMs over the current climate.
Fettweis, Xavier ULg; van den Broeke, Michiel; van de Berg, Willem Jan et al

Conference (2011, April 05)

Abstract. As part of the ICE2SEA project, the regional climate model MAR was forced by the general circulation model ECHAM5 for making future projections of the Greenland Ice Sheet (GrIS) Surface Mass ... [more ▼]

Abstract. As part of the ICE2SEA project, the regional climate model MAR was forced by the general circulation model ECHAM5 for making future projections of the Greenland Ice Sheet (GrIS) Surface Mass Balance (SMB) over 1980-2099 at a resolution of 25km. For the A1B scenario, MAR projects a highly negative (-500 GT/yr) SMB rate at the end of this century and a induced mass loss corresponding to a sea level rise of ~7 cm over 2000-2100. However, the comparison with MAR forced by the ERA-40 reanalysis over 1980-1999 shows that MAR forced by the 20C3M scenario is not able to represent reliably the current SMB due to biases in the general circulation and in the free atmosphere summer temperature modeled by ECHAM5 around the GrIS. These biases induce in MAR an underestimation of the snow accumulation and an overestimation of the surface melt. Therefore, this questions the reliability of these ECHAM5-forced future projections, knowing that i) these biases could be amplified in future and that ii) the MAR outputs are used to force ice sheets models for the ICE2SEA project. That is why, by waiting the outputs from the next generation of GCMs (CMIP5), we investigate the impacts of current climate biases over the future projections and we suggest corrections of ECHAM5 forcing files for having a better agreement with the ERA-40 forced simulation. This is useful for the ice sheet model wanting to use the absolute values of MAR future projections instead of anomalies. [less ▲]

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See detailUsing a circulation type classification to analyse the general circulation over Greenland simulated by GCMs
Belleflamme, Alexandre ULg; Fettweis, Xavier ULg; Erpicum, Michel ULg

Conference (2010, November 23)

Future projections of the Greenland ice sheet melt are mainly based on General Circulation Model (GCM) outputs. The atmospheric circulation type classification offers a unique opportunity for validating ... [more ▼]

Future projections of the Greenland ice sheet melt are mainly based on General Circulation Model (GCM) outputs. The atmospheric circulation type classification offers a unique opportunity for validating the GCM-based circulations. Six GCMs used in the last IPCC report are analysed here. A correlation-based classification is constructed for each model using daily geopotential height at 500 hPa over Greenland. It is applied to a dataset combining the GCM-based outputs (20C3M scenario) for the current climate and the NCEP-NCAR 1 reanalysis data over the period 1961-1990 allowing a direct comparison for each circulation type. Most of the analysed models are able to reproduce the main circulation types, but they fail to reproduce their frequencies because they underestimate the climate variability. In addition, some biases in the mean geopotential height remain. However, we use our atmospheric circulation type classification for analysing future projections made by GCMs. As for the 20th century climate, a combined classification is made integrating reanalysis data over 1971-1990, GCM-based outputs over 1971-1990 (using 20C3M scenario) and GCM-based outputs over 2046-2065 and 2081-2100 (using A1B scenario). No new circulation types are individualised knowing that the main changes are just a general increase of the geopotential height. Furthermore, the changes in frequency observed between the 20th century climate and the first future period (2046-2065) are of the same order than the uncertainties of the models for simulating the current climate by comparison with the reanalysis data. Therefore, the circulation type classification is a useful tool to give a precise analysis of the atmospheric circulation simulated by GCMs knowing that most of downscaling techniques are dependent on the general circulation simulated by the GCMs. [less ▲]

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See detailAnalysis of the atmospheric circulation simulated by GCMs over Greenland
Belleflamme, Alexandre ULg; Fettweis, Xavier ULg; Erpicum, Michel ULg

Conference (2010, November 05)

The variability of the geopotential height at 500 hPa simulated by General Circulation Models (GCMs) over Greenland is evaluated using an atmospheric circulation type classification. The GCM outputs for ... [more ▼]

The variability of the geopotential height at 500 hPa simulated by General Circulation Models (GCMs) over Greenland is evaluated using an atmospheric circulation type classification. The GCM outputs for the current climate (20C3M) are first compared to reanalysis data over 1961-1990. The comparison shows that most of them simulate well the main circulation types but fail to reproduce their frequencies because of underestimations of circulation variability and biases in the mean geopotential height. GCM-based future projections do not individualise new circulation types but show a general increase of the geopotential height. Based on this approach, the correlation between surface temperature and atmospheric circulation offers a new way for estimating the Greenland ice sheet melt. [less ▲]

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