Spatial and Temporal Trends in Sunshine Duration over Western Europe

This work analyzes sunshine duration variability in the western part of Europe (WEU) over the 1938– 2004 period. A principal component analysis is applied to cluster the original series from 79 sites into 6 regions, and then annual and seasonal mean series are constructed on regional and also for the whole WEU scales. Over the entire period studied here, the linear trend of annual sunshine duration is found to be nonsignificant. However, annual sunshine duration shows an overall decrease since the 1950s until the early 1980s, followed by a subsequent recovery during the last two decades. This behavior is in good agreement with the dimming and brightening phenomena described in previous literature. From the seasonal analysis, the most remarkable result is the similarity between spring and annual series, although the spring series has a negative trend; and the clear significant increase found for the whole WEU winter series, being especially large since the 1970s. The behavior of the major synoptic patterns for two seasons is investigated, resulting in some indications that sunshine duration evolution may be partially explained by changes in the frequency of some of them ​
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