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A multi-model, multi-scenario, and multi-domain analysis of regional climate projections for the Mediterranean

Zittis, George, Hadjinicolaou, Panos, Klangidou, Marina, Proestos, Yiannis, Lelieveld, Jos
Regional environmental change 2019 v.19 no.8 pp. 2621-2635
climate, climate models, global warming, greenhouse gases, simulation models, summer, temperature, uncertainty, Europe, Mediterranean region, Middle East, Northern Africa
Observation and model-based studies have identified the Mediterranean region as one of the most prominent climate change “hot-spots.” Parts of this distinctive region are included in several Coordinated Regional Downscaling Experiment (CORDEX) domains such as those for Europe, Africa, the Mediterranean, and the Middle East/North Africa. In this study, we compile and analyze monthly temperature and precipitation fields derived from regional climate model simulations performed over different CORDEX domains at a spatial resolution of 50 km. This unique multi-model, multi-scenario, and multi-domain “super-ensemble” is used to update projected changes for the Mediterranean region. The statistical robustness and significance of the climate change signal is assessed. By considering information from more than one CORDEX domains, our analysis addresses an additional type of uncertainty that is often neglected and is related to the positioning of the regional climate model domain. CORDEX simulations suggest a general warming by the end of the century (between 1 and 5 °C with respect to the 1986–2005 reference period), which is expected to be strongest during summer (up to 7 °C). A general drying (between 10 and 40%) is also inferred for the Mediterranean. However, the projected precipitation change signal is less significant and less robust. The CORDEX ensemble corroborates the fact that the Mediterranean is already entering the 1.5 °C climate warming era. It is expected to reach 2 °C warming well within two decades, unless strong greenhouse gas concentration reductions are implemented. The southern part of the Mediterranean is expected to be impacted most strongly since the CORDEX ensemble suggests substantial combined warming and drying, particularly for pathways RCP4.5 and RCP8.5.