The North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), a basic variability mode in the Northern Hemisphere, undergoes changes in its temporal and spatial characteristics, with significant implications on European climate. In this paper, different NAO flavors are distinguished for winter in simulations of a Coupled Atmosphere-Ocean GCM, using Self-Organizing Maps, a topology preserving clustering algorithm. These flavors refer to various sub-forms of the NAO pattern, reflecting the range of positions occupied by its action centers, the Icelandic Low and the Azores High. After having defined the NAO flavors, composites of winter temperature and precipitation over Europe are created for each one of them. The results reveal significant differences between NAO flavors in terms of their effects on the European climate. Generally, the eastwardly shifted NAO patterns induce a stronger than average influence on European temperatures. In contrast, the effects of NAO flavors on European precipitation anomalies are less coherent, with various areas responding differently. These results confirm that not only the temporal, but also the spatial variability of NAO is important in regulating European climate.
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