Spatiotemporal variability of droughts over the Arabian Peninsula and associated mechanisms

This study examines the spatiotemporal variability of drought and associated physical processes over the Arabian Peninsula (AP). For this purpose, we computed the standardized precipitation evapotranspiration index (SPEI) for the period 1951–2020 using the Climate Research Unit and ERA5 Reanalysis datasets. By applying rotated empirical orthogonal function analysis on the SPEI data, we identified four homogeneous and coherent drought regions. In comparison with the southern region, the droughts in the northern homogeneous regions were more significantly correlated. All four sub-regions of the AP exhibit a significant drying trend (p < 0.01) with an abrupt acceleration in drought frequency and intensity over the last two decades. The increase in droughts is associated with the reduction of synoptic activity and an increase in the high pressure over the AP. Seasonally, potential evapotranspiration is the dominant driver of summer droughts in the AP, whereas both precipitation and temperature are important for driving winter droughts. The summer droughts, mainly over the northern AP, are due to the occurrence of an anomalous equivalent barotropic high associated with anomalous dry and hot conditions. However, anomalous dry conditions in winter are a result of an anomalous paucity of winter storms caused by the weakening of the sub-tropical jets.

Saharwardi, M. S., Dasari, H. P., Gandham, H., Ashok, K., & Hoteit, I. (2023). Spatiotemporal variability of droughts over the Arabian Peninsula and associated mechanisms.

This research was supported by the Climate Change Center, an initiative of the National Center for Meteorology (NCM), Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (Ref No: RGC/03/4829-01-01). We acknowledge the ECMWF for providing ERA5 products, CRU-UEA for CRU datasets, MSWEP, and GPCC for gridded precipitation datasets.

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