Past, present and future precipitation in the Middle East: insights from models and observations
Black, E. C. L., Brayshaw, D. J. and Rambeau, C. M. C. (2010) Past, present and future precipitation in the Middle East: insights from models and observations. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, 368 (1931). pp. 5173-5184. ISSN 1364-503X
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1098/rsta.2010.0199
Anthropogenic changes in precipitation pose a serious threat to society—particularly in regions such as the Middle East that already face serious water shortages. However, climate model projections of regional precipitation remain highly uncertain. Moreover, standard resolution climate models have particular difficulty representing precipitation in the Middle East, which is modulated by complex topography, inland water bodies and proximity to the Mediterranean Sea. Here we compare precipitation changes over the twenty-first century against both millennial variability during the Holocene and interannual variability in the present day. In order to assess the climate model and to make consistent comparisons, this study uses new regional climate model simulations of the past, present and future in conjunction with proxy and historical observations. We show that the pattern of precipitation change within Europe and the Middle East projected by the end of the twenty-first century has some similarities to that which occurred during the Holocene. In both cases, a poleward shift of the North Atlantic storm track and a weakening of the Mediterranean storm track appear to cause decreased winter rainfall in southern Europe and the Middle East and increased rainfall further north. In contrast, on an interannual time scale, anomalously dry seasons in the Middle East are associated with a strengthening and focusing of the storm track in the north Mediterranean and hence wet conditions throughout southern Europe.