Sensitivity of the Regional Climate in the Middle East and North Africa to Volcanic Perturbations

Muhammad Mubashar Dogar, Georgiy L. Stenchikov, Sergey Osipov, Bruce Wyman, Ming Zhao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) regional climate appears to be extremely sensitive to volcanic eruptions. Winter cooling after the 1991 Pinatubo eruption far exceeded the mean hemispheric temperature anomaly, even causing snowfall in Israel. To better understand MENA climate variability, the climate responses to the El Chichón and Pinatubo volcanic eruptions are analyzed using observations, NOAA/NCEP Climate Forecast System Reanalysis, and output from the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory's High-Resolution Atmospheric Model (HiRAM). A multiple regression analysis both for the observations and the model output is performed on seasonal summer and winter composites to separate out the contributions from climate trends, El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO), North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), Indian summer monsoon and volcanic aerosols. Strong regional temperature and precipitation responses over the MENA region are found in both winter and summer. The model and the observations both show that a positive NAO amplifies the MENA volcanic winter cooling. In boreal summer, the patterns of changing temperature and precipitation suggest a weakening and southward shift of the Intertropical Convergence Zone, caused by volcanic surface cooling and weakening of the Indian and West African monsoons. The model captures the main features of the climate response; however, it underestimates the total cooling, especially in winter, and exhibits a different spatial pattern of the NAO climate response in MENA compared to the observations. The conducted analysis sheds light on the internal mechanisms of MENA climate variability and helps to selectively diagnose the model deficiencies.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7922-7948
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
Issue number15
StatePublished - Aug 10 2017

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledgements: The research reported in this publication was supported by the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST). For computer time, this research used the resources of the Supercomputing Laboratory at KAUST in Thuwal, Saudi Arabia. The simulation results and supporting data sets are available from the corresponding author upon request. The UDEL observations and NCEP CFSR dataset used in this study is provided by the NOAA/OAR/ESRL PSD, Boulder, Colorado, USA, through their web site at


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