The ability of both the ECMWF-TOGA analyses and regional model RegCM2 to simulate the climate of the Middle East is examined. The climate of the region displays high spatial, seasonal and interannual variability, providing a strong test of a climate model's abilities. The higher resolution of RegCM2, compared with the ECMWF analyses, allows it to capture the spatial variability of temperature and precipitation better despite model biases being present. Both RegCM2 and the analyses have a cold bias, exacerbated in RegCM2 by a bias present in the prescribed sea-surface-temperature forcing. RegCM2 does not capture the annual cycle of precipitation on the Black and Caspian Sea coasts, where very steep topography exists, nor on the eastern Mediterranean coast, where the coastal mountains are not
resolved. RegCM2 does capture the seasonal cycle in the Fertile Crescent and Zagros Mountains, where it is strongly influenced by a plateau circulation above the Iranian plateau. It is shown that accurate simulation of precipitation in these regions requires the correct simulation of storm tracks, topographic interactions and atmospheric stability. RegCM2 is better able to simulate the interannual variability averaged over the entire domain compared with the ECMWF analyses; however, they both have difficulty reproducing the interannual variability in particular subregions. It is also shown that processes controlling the seasonality of precipitation differ in different subregions and are often different from the processes controlling interannual variability. This suggests that, in order to model
precipitation successfully, a horizontal scale that allows differentiation of precipitation zones dominated by different precipitation processes, both seasonally and interannually, is required.
Figure 12: Monthly averaged precipitation for each subregion. Observations are from the FAO dataset
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Last updated 31st January 2013