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Changes in extreme temperature and precipitation in the Arab region: long-term trends and variability related to ENSO and NAO

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Abstract

A workshop was held in Casablanca, Morocco, in March 2012, to enhance knowledge of climate extremes and their changes in the Arab region. This workshop initiated intensive data compilation activities of daily observational weather station data from the Arab region. After conducting careful control processes to ensure the quality and homogeneity of the data, climate indices for extreme temperatures and precipitation were calculated.

This study examines the temporal changes in climate extremes in the Arab region with regard to long-term trends and natural variability related to ENSO and NAO. We find consistent warming trends since the middle of the 20th Century across the region. This is evident in the increased frequencies of warm days and warm nights, higher extreme temperature values, fewer cold days and cold nights and shorter cold spell durations. The warming trends seem to be particularly strong since the early 1970s. Changes in precipitation are generally less consistent and characterised by a higher spatial and temporal variability; the trends are generally less significant. However, in the western part of the Arab region, there is a tendency towards wetter conditions. In contrast, in the eastern part, there are more drying trends, although, these are of low significance.

We also find some relationships between climate extremes in the Arab region and certain prominent modes of variability, in particular El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO). The relationships of the climate extremes with NAO are stronger, in general, than those with ENSO, and are particularly strong in the western part of the Arab region (closer to the Atlantic Ocean). The relationships with ENSO are found to be more significant towards the eastern part of the area of study. © 2013 Royal Meteorological Society

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