A comparative review of the weather and climate of the New Zealand Southern Alps and the European Alps
A comparative review is provided of the weather and climate processes and phenomena that characterize the New Zealand Southern Alps and European Alps. The general climate conditions and atmospheric circulation features that affect the 2 mountain regions are assessed. Interaction of the mountains with synoptic weather systems is described, including their dynamic and thermal effects on airflow, such as the foehn and nor’wester. The different orientations of the mountain barriers are seen as creating differences between the 2 regions, including the high frequency of cyclogenesis south of the European Alps and the marked orographic effect on fronts along the east coast of New Zealand. Other distinctive features of the regional wind field are described and explained. Mountain effects on rainfall amounts and distribution are also briefly covered, including the very high precipitation received on the west coast of the New Zealand Southern Alps and the more even spread of precipitation north and south of the European Alps. Medium- to long-term influences on the climate are examined for each region, with both affected by interregional teleconnections. El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and North Atlantic Oscillation (NSO) are seen as strongly controlling the intradecadal climate variability experienced in the New Zealand Southern Alps and European Alps, respectively.