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SPAIN: More hot days, fewer cold nights
When researchers at the University of Salamanca decided to consider the impact of climate change on mainland Spain they chose to look at it in a different way from many other scientists. Instead of studying average temperatures, they looked for changes in the incidence of two climate extremes - warm days and cold nights.

After studying climate records from 1950 to 2006, they found that mainland Spain has had a greater increase in the number of warm days than the rest of the planet and a drop in the number of cold nights.

Lead author Concepción Rodríguez says the researchers have also looked at changes in the air masses reaching the Iberian Peninsula as well as sea temperature in order to see what changes are influencing Spain's climate change.

"Warm days are related to atmospheric teleconnection patterns, while cold nights are caused, principally, by the temperature of the sea [in the North Atlantic]," Rodríguez says.

Weather that draws air masses up from the north of Africa is the leading cause of warm days for Spain.

"The type of weather that causes more cold nights is the depression over the Gulf of Genoa, which brings cold and dry air from central Europe to Spain," explains Rodríguez, who says that the change in the number of warm days and cold nights is much more pronounced in the south-west and north-east of the Iberian Peninsula.

"One of the most probable causes of these changes is the variation in the surface temperature of the sea in the eastern Atlantic," she says.

"The trend towards the reduction of cold nights correlates with that obtained at global level, according to the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. However, the increase in warm days in mainland Spain is higher than the number obtained globally for the planet as a whole."

The study was published in the journal Climatic Change.
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