Spatio-temporal patterns of recent and future climate extremes in the eastern Mediterranean and Middle East region
- 1University of the Aegean, Department of Geography, Mytilene, Greece
- 2Institute for Environmental Research and Sustainable Development, National Observatory of Athens, Athens, Greece
- 3Energy, Environment and Water Research Center, The Cyprus Institute, Nicosia, Cyprus
Abstract. Recent and future changes in temperature and precipitation climate extremes are estimated using the Hadley Centre PRECIS ("Providing REgional Climates for Impacts Studies") climate model for the eastern Mediterranean and Middle East region. The area of interest is considered vulnerable to extreme climate events as there is evidence for a temperature rise while precipitation tends to decline, suggesting likely effects on vital socioeconomic sectors in the region. Observations have been obtained for the recent period (1961–1990) and used to evaluate the model output. The spatial distribution of recent temporal trends in temperature indicates strong increasing in minimum temperature over the eastern Balkan Peninsula, Turkey and the Arabian Peninsula. The rate of warming reaches 0.4–0.5 °C decade−1 in a large part of the domain, while warming is expected to be strongest in summer (0.6–0.7 °C decade−1) in the eastern Balkans and western Turkey. The trends in annual and summer maximum temperature are estimated at approximately 0.5 and 0.6 °C decade−1 respectively. Recent estimates do not indicate statistically significant trends in precipitation except for individual sub-regions. Results indicate a future warming trend for the study area over the last 30 years of the 21st century. Trends are estimated to be positive and statistically significant in nearly the entire region. The annual trend patterns for both minimum and maximum temperature show warming rates of approximately 0.4–0.6 °C decade−1, with pronounced warming over the Middle Eastern countries. Summer temperatures reveal a gradual warming (0.5–0.9 °C decade−1) over much of the region. The model projects drying trends by 5–30% in annual precipitation towards the end of the 21st century, with the number of wet days decreasing at the rate of 10–30 days year−1, while heavy precipitation is likely to decrease in the high-elevation areas by 15 days year−1.