Articles | Volume 9, issue 4
17 Jul 2009
 | 17 Jul 2009

Application of the Hess-Brezowsky classification to the identification of weather patterns causing heavy winter rainfall in Brittany (France)

O. Planchon, H. Quénol, N. Dupont, and S. Corgne

Abstract. An accurate knowledge of the weather patterns causing winter rainfall over the Scorff watershed in western Brittany (W. France) was developed prior to studies of the impact of the climate factor on land use management, and of the hydrological reponses to rain-producing weather patterns. These two studies are carried out in the context of the climate change. The identification of rainy air-circulation types was realized using the objective computational version of the 29-type Hess and Brezowsky Grosswetterlagen system of classifying European synoptic regimes, for the cold season (November-March) of the 1958–2005 period at the reference weather station of Lorient, and 13 other stations located in western and southern Brittany, including a more detailed study for the wet 2000–2001 cold season for three reference stations of the Scorff watershed (Lorient, Plouay and Plouray). The precipitation proportion (including the days with rainfall ≥20 mm) was calculated by major air-circulation type (GWT: see Appendix A) and by individual air-circulation subtype (GWL: see Appendix A) for the studied time-period. The most frequently occurrence of rainy days associated with westerly and southerly GWL confirmed well-known observations in western Europe and so justify the use of the Hess-Brezowsky classification in other areas outside Central Europe. The southern or south-western exposure of the watershed with a hilly inland area enhanced the heavy rainfall generated by the SW and S circulation types, and increased the difference between the rainfall amounts of coastal and inland stations during the wettest days.