Special Issue "Assessing the Climate of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East/North Africa"

A special issue of Atmosphere (ISSN 2073-4433). This special issue belongs to the section "Climatology".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 April 2020).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Panos Hadjinicolaou
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Energy, Environment and Water Research Center, The Cyprus Institute, Nicosia, Cyprus
Interests: dynamical downscaling of past, present, and future climate; indices and impacts of climate change extremes; atmospheric circulation links; climate statistics, stratospheric ozone depletion, trends, and future recovery
Prof. Mansour Almazroui
E-Mail Website1 Website2
Guest Editor
Center of Excellence for Climate Change Research, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah 21589, Saudi Arabia
Interests: climate variability; climate and climate change; impacts of climate change in water resources and agriculture; detection of climate change signals and future climate change in the Middle East with a focus on the Arabian Peninsula; global and regional climate modeling; large-scale circulation patterns affecting local climate elements in Saudi Arabia; relationship to extremes and large-scale teleconnections

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The region encompassing the Eastern Mediterranean (EM) and the Middle East/North Africa (MENA) is made up of two dozen countries with over 400 million inhabitants. The five most populated metropolitan cities (Cairo, Istanbul, Tehran, Baghdad, and Riyadh) have a total of nearly 60 million inhabitants. After years of intense industrialization, rapid population growth, urbanization, and extensive land conversion, the EM/MENA is now considered a global climate change ‘hot spot’. Temperature has increased faster than the global average and rainfall decreased in recent decades, while model projections indicate even warmer and drier conditions for the 21st century.

Manuscripts are invited to further document and investigate past, present, and future climate evolution, and related processes, responses, and atmospheric impacts, based on model simulations and/or analysis of observed data. Potential topics pertinent to the climate of the EM/MENA region may include:

  • Climate change, trends, and projections;
  • Observational analysis and/or model evaluation;
  • Atmospheric circulation regimes;
  • Links with global teleconnections;
  • Heat and hydrometeorological extremes;
  • Region, country or local scale climate change assessments.

Contributions from the CORDEX regional climate modeling community are especially welcome.

Dr. Panos Hadjinicolaou
Prof. Mansour Almazroui
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Atmosphere is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Climatology
  • Extremes
  • Climate change
  • Modeling
  • Observations
  • Mediterranean
  • Middle East
  • North Africa

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
GIS-Based Land Suitability and Crop Vulnerability Assessment under Climate Change in Chtouka Ait Baha, Morocco
Atmosphere 2020, 11(11), 1167; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos11111167 - 29 Oct 2020
Viewed by 653
Abstract
Agriculture plays a crucial role in the economic development in Morocco, contributing to 14% of the national gross domestic product. However, this sector is facing various challenges, including climate change. This study aims to assess relevant indicators that may affect land suitability, water [...] Read more.
Agriculture plays a crucial role in the economic development in Morocco, contributing to 14% of the national gross domestic product. However, this sector is facing various challenges, including climate change. This study aims to assess relevant indicators that may affect land suitability, water demand, and crop growing season duration under climate change. Further, it may be used as a decision support tool in the Chtouka area known for its irrigated agriculture. The approach proposed, the spatial distribution of land based on suitability, is founded on the multiple-criteria decision-making method of four parameters; soil texture, temperature, land use, and slope. The duration of the length of crop season was simulated using the concept of growing degree days. The projection of land suitability for 2031–2050 indicated an important decrease of 12.11% of “highly suitable” agricultural land under the RCP4.5 emission scenario and a significant increase of 4.68% of “highly unsuitable” land, according to the RCP8.5 emission scenario compared to the baseline (1985–2005). The projected growing degree days in 2031–2050 showed a strong shortening in the growing period length compared to the baseline 1985–2006, mainly under the RCP8.5 emission scenario, with a reduction from 8% to 21% depending on crops. Moreover, crop water productivity indicated that berries were over 50% less water productive than other vegetable crops for almost the same amount of applied irrigation water. These findings highlight the vulnerability of agriculture to climate change, which requires important political and management efforts to sustain agricultural activity. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Long-Term Analysis of Atmospheric Energetics Components over the Mediterranean, Middle East and North Africa
Atmosphere 2020, 11(9), 976; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos11090976 - 11 Sep 2020
Viewed by 584
Abstract
In this research, one aspect of the climate that is not commonly referred to, namely, the long-term changes in the components of the atmospheric energy, is investigated. In this respect, the changes in four energy forms are considered, namely, Kinetic Energy (KE [...] Read more.
In this research, one aspect of the climate that is not commonly referred to, namely, the long-term changes in the components of the atmospheric energy, is investigated. In this respect, the changes in four energy forms are considered, namely, Kinetic Energy (KE), Thermal Energy (TE), Internal Energy (IE), Potential Energy (PE) and Latent Energy (LE); the Energy Conversion (EC) between Kinetic Energy and Potential plus Internal Energy (PIE) is also considered. The area considered in this long-term energetics analysis covers the entire Mediterranean basin, the Middle East and a large part of North Africa. This broad geographical area has been identified by many researchers as a hot spot of climate change. Analyses of climatic data have indeed shown that this region has been experiencing marked changes regarding several climatic variables. The present energetics analysis makes use of the ERA-Interim database for the period from 1979 to 2018. In this 40-year period, the long-term changes in the above energetics components are studied. The monthly means of daily means for all the above energy forms and Energy Conversion comprise the basis for the present research. The results are presented in the form of monthly means, annual means and spatial distributions of the energetics components. They show the dominant role of the subtropical jet-stream in the KE regime. During the study period, the tendency is for KE to decrease with time, with this decrease found to be more coherent in the last decade. The tendency for TE is to increase with time, with this increase being more pronounced in the most recent years, with the maximum in the annual mean in KE noted in 2015. The sum of Potential and Internal energies (PIE) and the sum of Potential, Internal and Latent energies (PILE) follow closely the patterns established for TE. In particular, the strong seasonal influence on the monthly means is evident with minima of PIE and PILE noted in winters, whereas, maxima are registered during summers. In addition, both PIE and PILE exhibit a tendency to increase with time in the 40-year period, with this increase being more firmly noted in the more recent years. Although local conversion from KE into PIE is notable, the area averaging of EC shows that the overall conversion is in the direction of increasing the PIE content of the area at the expense of the KE content. EC behaves rather erratically during the study period, with values ranging from 0.5 to 3.7 × 102 W m−2. Averaged over the study area, the Energy Conversion term operates in the direction of converting KE into PIE; it also lacks a seasonal behavior. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Rainfall Trends and Extremes in Saudi Arabia in Recent Decades
Atmosphere 2020, 11(9), 964; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos11090964 - 10 Sep 2020
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 815
Abstract
The observed records of recent decades show increased economic damage associated with flash flooding in different regions of Saudi Arabia. An increase in extreme rainfall events may cause severe repercussions for the socio-economic sectors of the country. The present study investigated the observed [...] Read more.
The observed records of recent decades show increased economic damage associated with flash flooding in different regions of Saudi Arabia. An increase in extreme rainfall events may cause severe repercussions for the socio-economic sectors of the country. The present study investigated the observed rainfall trends and associated extremes over Saudi Arabia for the 42-year period of 1978–2019. It measured the contribution of extreme events to the total rainfall and calculated the changes to mean and extreme rainfall events over five different climate regions of Saudi Arabia. Rainfall indices were constructed by estimating the extreme characteristics associated with daily rainfall frequency and intensity. The analysis reveals that the annual rainfall is decreasing (5.89 mm decade−1, significant at the 90% level) over Saudi Arabia for the entire analysis period, while it increased in the most recent decade. On a monthly scale, the most significant increase (5.44 mm decade−1) is observed in November and the largest decrease (1.20 mm decade−1) in January. The frequency of intense rainfall events is increasing for the majority of stations over Saudi Arabia, while the frequency of weak events is decreasing. More extreme rainfall events are occurring in the northwest, east, and southwest regions of Saudi Arabia. A daily rainfall of ≥ 26 mm is identified as the threshold for an extreme event. It is found that the contribution of extreme events to the total rainfall amount varies from region to region and season to season. The most considerable contribution (up to 56%) is found in the southern region in June. Regionally, significant contribution comes from the coastal region, where extreme events contribute, on average, 47% of the total rainfall each month from October to February, with the largest (53%) in November. For the entire country, extreme rainfall contributes most (52%) in November and least (20%) in July, while contributions from different stations are in the 8–50% range of the total rainfall. Full article
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
Future Changes in Euro-Mediterranean Daytime Severe Thunderstorm Environments Based on an RCP8.5 Med-CORDEX Simulation
Atmosphere 2020, 11(8), 822; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos11080822 - 04 Aug 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1035
Abstract
Convective scale processes and, therefore, thunderstorm-related hazards cannot be simulated using regional climate models with horizontal grid spacing in the order of 10 km. However, larger-scale environmental conditions of these local high-impact phenomena can be diagnosed to assess their frequency in current and [...] Read more.
Convective scale processes and, therefore, thunderstorm-related hazards cannot be simulated using regional climate models with horizontal grid spacing in the order of 10 km. However, larger-scale environmental conditions of these local high-impact phenomena can be diagnosed to assess their frequency in current and future climates. In this study, we present a daytime climatology of severe thunderstorm environments and its evolution for a wide Euro-Mediterranean domain through the 21st century, using regional climate model simulations forced by Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) 8.5 scenario. Currently, severe convective weather is more frequently favored around Central Europe and the Mediterranean Sea. Our results suggest that with a steady progress until the end of the century, Mediterranean coasts are projected to experience a significantly higher frequency of severe thunderstorm environments, while a slight decrease over parts of continental Europe is evaluated. The increase across the Mediterranean is mostly owed to the warming sea surface, which strengthens thermodynamic conditions in the wintertime, while local factors arguably keep the shear frequency relatively higher than the entire region. On the other hand, future northward extension of the subtropical belt over Europe in the warm season reduces the number of days with severe thunderstorm environments. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Updated Assessment of Temperature Extremes over the Middle East–North Africa (MENA) Region from Observational and CMIP5 Data
Atmosphere 2020, 11(8), 813; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos11080813 - 31 Jul 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 830
Abstract
The objective of this analysis is to provide an up-to-date observation-based assessment of the evolution of temperature extremes in the Middle East–North Africa (MENA) region and evaluate the performance of global climate model simulations of the past four decades. A list of indices [...] Read more.
The objective of this analysis is to provide an up-to-date observation-based assessment of the evolution of temperature extremes in the Middle East–North Africa (MENA) region and evaluate the performance of global climate model simulations of the past four decades. A list of indices of temperature extremes, based on absolute level, threshold, percentile and duration is used, as defined by the Expert Team on Climate Change Detection and Indices (ETCCDI). We use daily near-surface air temperature (Tmax and Tmin) to derive the indices of extremes for the period 1980–2018 from: (i) re-analyses (ERA-Interim, MERRA-2) and gridded observational data (Berkeley Earth) and (ii) 18 CMIP5 model results combining historical (1950–2005) and scenario runs (2006–2018 under RCP 2.6, RCP 4.5 and RCP 8.5). The CMIP5 results show domain-wide strong, statistically significant warming, while the observation based ones are more spatially variable. The CMIP5 models capture the climatology of the hottest areas in the western parts of northern Africa and the Gulf region with the thewarmest day (TXx) > 46 °C and warmest night (TNx) > 33 °C. For these indices, the observed trends are about 0.3–0.4 °C/decade while they are 0.1–0.2 °C/decade stronger in the CMIP5 results. Overall, the modeled climate warming up to 2018, as reflected in the indices of temperature extremes is confirmed by re-analysis and observational data. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Projected Future Temporal Trends of Two Different Urban Heat Islands in Athens (Greece) under Three Climate Change Scenarios: A Statistical Approach
Atmosphere 2020, 11(6), 637; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos11060637 - 16 Jun 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 744
Abstract
This is the first study to look at future temporal urban heath island (UHI) trends of Athens (Greece) under different UHI intensity regimes. Historical changes in the Athens UHI, spanning 1971–2016, were assessed by contrasting two air temperature records from stable meteorological stations [...] Read more.
This is the first study to look at future temporal urban heath island (UHI) trends of Athens (Greece) under different UHI intensity regimes. Historical changes in the Athens UHI, spanning 1971–2016, were assessed by contrasting two air temperature records from stable meteorological stations in contrasting urban and rural settings. Subsequently, we used a five-member regional climate model (RCM) sub-ensemble from EURO-CORDEX with a horizontal resolution of 0.11° (~12 × 12 km) to simulate air temperature data, spanning the period 1976–2100, for the two station sites. Three future emissions scenarios (RCP2.6, RCP4.5, and RCP8.5) were implanted in the simulations after 2005 covering the period 2006–2100. Two 20-year historical reference periods (1976–1995 and 1996–2015) were selected with contrasting UHI regimes; the second period had a stronger intensity. The daily maximum and minimum air temperature data (Tmax and Tmin) for the two reference periods were perturbed to two future periods, 2046–2065 and 2076–2095, under the three RCPs, by applying the empirical quantile mapping (eqm) bias-adjusting method. This novel approach allows us to assess future temperature developments in Athens under two UHI intensity regimes that are mainly forced by differences in air pollution and heat input. We found that the future frequency of days with Tmax > 37 °C in Athens was only different from rural background values under the intense UHI regime. Thus, the impact of heatwaves on the urban environment of Athens is dependent on UHI intensity. There is a large increase in the future frequency of nights with Tmin > 26 °C in Athens under all UHI regimes and climate scenarios; these events remain comparatively rare at the rural site. This large urban amplification of the frequency of extremely hot nights is likely caused by air pollution. Consequently, local mitigation policies aimed at decreasing urban atmospheric pollution are expected to be highly effective in reducing urban temperatures and extreme heat events in Athens under future climate change scenarios. Such policies directly have multiple benefits, including reduced electricity (energy) needs, improved living quality and strong health advantages (heat- and pollution-related illness/deaths). Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Saharan Hot and Dry Sirocco Winds Drive Extreme Fire Events in Mediterranean Tunisia (North Africa)
Atmosphere 2020, 11(6), 590; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos11060590 - 03 Jun 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1162
Abstract
With hot and dry summers, the Mediterranean basin is affected by recurrent fires. While drought is the major driver of the seasonal and inter-annual fire distribution in its northern and mildest climate conditions, some extreme fire events are also linked to extreme winds [...] Read more.
With hot and dry summers, the Mediterranean basin is affected by recurrent fires. While drought is the major driver of the seasonal and inter-annual fire distribution in its northern and mildest climate conditions, some extreme fire events are also linked to extreme winds or heat waves. The southern part of the Mediterranean basin is located at the driest range of the Mediterranean bioclimate and is influenced by Saharan atmospheric circulations, leading to extreme hot and dry episodes, called Sirocco, and potentially acting as a major contributor to fire hazard. The recently created fire database for Tunisia was used to investigate the ±10-day pre- and post-fire timeframe of daily weather conditions associated with fire events over the 1985–2006 period. Positive anomalies in minimum and maximum temperatures, negative anomalies in air relative humidity, and a preferential south-eastern wind during fire events were identified, which were characteristic of Sirocco winds. +7 °C anomalies in air temperature and −30% in relative air humidity were the critical thresholds for the most extreme fire conditions. In addition, meteorological anomalies started two days before fire events and lasted for three days after for large fires >400 ha, which suggests that the duration of the Sirocco event is linked with fire duration and final fire size. Lastly, the yearly number of intense Sirocco events better explained the inter-annual variability of burned area over the 1950–2006 period than summer drought based on Standardized Precipitation Evaporation Index (SPEI) indices. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
21st Century Projections of Extreme Precipitation Indicators for Cyprus
Atmosphere 2020, 11(4), 343; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos11040343 - 31 Mar 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1166
Abstract
According to observational and model-based studies, the eastern Mediterranean region is one of the most prominent climate-change hotspots in the world. The combined effect of warming and drying is expected to augment the regional impacts of global warming. In addition to changes in [...] Read more.
According to observational and model-based studies, the eastern Mediterranean region is one of the most prominent climate-change hotspots in the world. The combined effect of warming and drying is expected to augment the regional impacts of global warming. In addition to changes in mean climatic conditions, global warming is likely to induce changes in several aspects of extreme rainfall such as duration and magnitude. In this context, we explore the impact of climate change on precipitation with the use of several indicators. We focus on Cyprus, a water-stressed island located in the eastern Mediterranean Basin. Our results are derived from a new high-resolution simulation for the 21st century, which is driven by a “business-as-usual” scenario. In addition to a strong temperature increase (up to 4.1 °C), our analysis highlights that, on average for the island, most extreme precipitation indicators decrease, suggesting a transition to much drier conditions. The absolute daily rainfall maxima exhibit strong local variability, indicating the need for high resolution simulations to understand the potential impacts on future flooding. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Evaluation of A Regional Climate Model for the Eastern Nile Basin: Terrestrial and Atmospheric Water Balance
Atmosphere 2019, 10(12), 736; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos10120736 - 22 Nov 2019
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1081
Abstract
The study of water balance is considered here as a way to assess the performance of regional climate models and examine model uncertainty and as an approach to understanding regional hydrology, especially interactions between atmospheric and hydrological processes. We studied the atmospheric and [...] Read more.
The study of water balance is considered here as a way to assess the performance of regional climate models and examine model uncertainty and as an approach to understanding regional hydrology, especially interactions between atmospheric and hydrological processes. We studied the atmospheric and terrestrial water balance over the Eastern Nile Basin (ENB) region using the weather research and forecasting (WRF) model. The model performance in simulating precipitation and surface air temperature is assessed by comparing the model output with the data from the Global Precipitation Climatology Center dataset for precipitation and from the University of Delaware for temperature. The results show that the simulated and observed values correlate well. In terms of water balance, the study region was found to be a sink for moisture, where the atmospheric convergence is negative during most of the time. Most of the precipitation originates from moisture fluxes from outside the domain, and the contribution of local evapotranspiration to precipitation is limited, with small values for the moisture recycling ratios year-round. The atmospheric moisture content does not show significant monthly or annual variation. The results indicate that the terrestrial water storage varies seasonally, with negative fluxes during most of the year, except June, July, and August, when most of the precipitation occurs. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Climate Extremes over the Arabian Peninsula Using RegCM4 for Present Conditions Forced by Several CMIP5 Models
Atmosphere 2019, 10(11), 675; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos10110675 - 02 Nov 2019
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 970
Abstract
This paper investigates the temperature and precipitation extremes over the Arabian Peninsula using data from the regional climate model RegCM4 forced by three Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5) models and ERA–Interim reanalysis data. Indices of extremes are calculated using daily temperature [...] Read more.
This paper investigates the temperature and precipitation extremes over the Arabian Peninsula using data from the regional climate model RegCM4 forced by three Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5) models and ERA–Interim reanalysis data. Indices of extremes are calculated using daily temperature and precipitation data at 27 meteorological stations located across Saudi Arabia in line with the suggested procedure from the Expert Team on Climate Change Detection and Indices (ETCCDI) for the present climate (1986–2005) using 1981–2000 as the reference period. The results show that RegCM4 accurately captures the main features of temperature extremes found in surface observations. The results also show that RegCM4 with the CLM land–surface scheme performs better in the simulation of precipitation and minimum temperature, while the BATS scheme is better than CLM in simulating maximum temperature. Among the three CMIP5 models, the two best performing models are found to accurately reproduce the observations in calculating the extreme indices, while the other is not so successful. The reason for the good performance by these two models is that they successfully capture the circulation patterns and the humidity fields, which in turn influence the temperature and precipitation patterns that determine the extremes over the study region. Full article
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