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Water 2017, 9(4), 259; doi:10.3390/w9040259

Characterizing Precipitation Variability and Trends in the World’s Mediterranean-Climate Areas

1
Soil and Water Sciences Department, University of Florida, IFAS West Florida Research and Education Center, Milton, FL 32583, USA
2
University of Florida, IFAS West Florida Research and Education Center, Milton, FL 32583, USA
3
University of California ANR Informatics and GIS Statewide Program, Hopland, CA 95445, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Matt Kondolf and Ben Porter
Received: 1 November 2016 / Revised: 9 March 2017 / Accepted: 29 March 2017 / Published: 6 April 2017
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Abstract

The Mediterranean climate is principally characterized by warm, dry summers and cool, wet winters. However, there are large variations in precipitation dynamics in regions with this climate type. We examined the variability of precipitation within and among Mediterranean-climate areas, and classified the Mediterranean climate as wet, moderate, or dry based on annual precipitation; and strongly, moderately, or weakly seasonal based on percentage of precipitation during summer. Mediterranean biomes are mostly dry (<700 mm annually) but some areas are wet (>1300 mm annually); and many areas are weakly seasonal (>12% of annual precipitation during summer). We also used NOAA NCDC climate records to characterize interannual variability of annual and dry-season precipitation, as well as trends in annual, winter, and dry-season precipitation for 337 sites that met the data quality criteria from 1975 to 2015. Most significantly, sites in many Mediterranean-climate regions show downward trends in annual precipitation (southern California, Spain, Australia, Chile, and Northern Italy); and most of North America, the Mediterranean basin, and Chile showed downward trends in summer precipitation. Variations in annual and summer precipitation likely contribute to the high biodiversity and endemism characteristic of Mediterranean-climate biomes; the data indicate trends toward harsher conditions over the past 40 years. View Full-Text
Keywords: Mediterranean climate; spatial variability; interannual variability; Mann–Kendall trends analysis; precipitation seasonality; dry season Mediterranean climate; spatial variability; interannual variability; Mann–Kendall trends analysis; precipitation seasonality; dry season
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Deitch, M.J.; Sapundjieff, M.J.; Feirer, S.T. Characterizing Precipitation Variability and Trends in the World’s Mediterranean-Climate Areas. Water 2017, 9, 259.

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