Future projections of synoptic weather types over the Arabian Peninsula during the twenty-first century using an ensemble of CMIP5 models

An assessment of future change in synoptic conditions over the Arabian Peninsula throughout the twenty-first century was performed using 20 climate models from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5) database. We employed the mean sea level pressure (SLP) data from model output together with NCEP/NCAR reanalysis data and compared the relevant circulation types produced by the Lamb classification scheme for the base period 19752000. Overall, model results illustrated good agreement with the reanalysis, albeit with a tendency to underestimate cyclonic (C) and southeasterly (SE) patterns and to overestimate anticyclones and directional flows. We also investigated future projections for each circulation-type during the rainy season (DecemberMay) using three Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs), comprising RCP2.6, RCP4.5, and RCP8.5. Overall, two scenarios (RCP4.5 and RCP 8.5) revealed a statistically significant increase in weather types favoring above normal rainfall in the region (e.g., C and E-types). In contrast, weather types associated with lower amounts of rainfall (e.g., anticyclones) are projected to decrease in winter but increase in spring. For all scenarios, there was consistent agreement on the sign of change (i.e., positive/negative) for the most frequent patterns (e.g., C, SE, E and A-types), whereas the sign was uncertain for less recurrent types (e.g., N, NW, SE, and W). The projected changes in weather type frequencies in the region can be viewed not only as indicators of change in rainfall response but may also be used to inform impact studies pertinent to water resource planning and management, extreme weather analysis, and agricultural production.

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