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Mid-Century Changes in the Mean and Extreme Climate in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Implications for Water Harvesting and Climate Adaptation

1
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change, Center for Global Change Science, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA
2
Center for Complex Engineering Systems, King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology, Riyadh 11442, Saudi Arabia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Atmosphere 2020, 11(10), 1068; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos11101068
Received: 22 July 2020 / Revised: 26 September 2020 / Accepted: 3 October 2020 / Published: 8 October 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Climatology)
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) is a water-scarce region with a dry, desert climate, yet flood-producing precipitation events and heat extremes lead to loss of life and damages to local infrastructure, property and economy. Due to its distinctive natural and man-made spatial features (e.g., coastal features, wadis, agricultural areas) studying changes in the mean climate and extreme events requires higher-resolution climate projections than those available from the current generation of Earth System Models. Here, a high-resolution convection-permitting regional climate model is used to downscale the middle of the 21st century (2041–2050) climate projections of the Community Earth System Model (CESM) under representative concentration pathway (RCP) 8.5 and for a historical time period (2008–2017) focusing on two months (August and November) within KSA’s dry-hot and wet seasons, where extreme events have historically been observed more frequently. Downscaling of climate reanalysis is also performed for the historical time period (2008–2017) to evaluate the downscaling methodology. An increase in the intensity and frequency of precipitation events is found in August by mid-century, particularly along the mountainous western coast of KSA, suggesting potential for water harvesting. Conversely, the northern flank of the Empty Quarter experiences a noticeable reduction in mean and extreme precipitation rates during the wet season. Increasing August heat index is found to particularly make regional habitability difficult in Jeddah by mid-century. View Full-Text
Keywords: convection-permitting regional climate modeling; climate projections; Arabian Peninsula; climate extremes; water harvesting convection-permitting regional climate modeling; climate projections; Arabian Peninsula; climate extremes; water harvesting
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Komurcu, M.; Schlosser, C.A.; Alshehri, I.; Alshahrani, T.; Alhayaza, W.; AlSaati, A.; Strzepek, K. Mid-Century Changes in the Mean and Extreme Climate in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Implications for Water Harvesting and Climate Adaptation. Atmosphere 2020, 11, 1068.

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