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FRONTAL ATLANTIC RAINFALL COMPONENT IN THE WESTERN MEDITERRANEAN BASIN.

VARIABILITY AND SPATIAL DISTRIBUTION


Mara J. Estrela Navarro , Javier Mir Prez , Francisco Pastor Guzman and Milln Milln Muoz
Laboratorio de Meteorologa-Climatologa, Unidad Mixta CEAM-UVEG. E-mail: estrela@ceam.es
1. Fundacin Centro de Estudios Ambientales del Mediterrneo 2. Departament de Geografa, Universitat de Valencia
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Introduction
Recent climate change studies indicate a positive trend in precipitation for northern Europe whereas the trend could be negative in Southern European countries. However, these results for total precipitation values can hide wether the variations are connected with changes in the type of weather conditions producing precipitation. The authors have developed a novel technique for the disaggregation of the precipitation series depending on its synoptic setting or origin. The results of their application in Valencia, while confirming the downward trend in total precipitation, show important differences regarding the type of precipitation, whether coming from Atlantic frontal systems, convective storms or Mediterranean advections. Subsequently, we have extended this methodology to the Western Mediterranean basin to analyze the current situation and future behaviour of water regimes in the area. The Western Mediterranean basin has been divided into four main sectors (east of the Iberian Peninsula, Southern France, Italian peninsula and Northern Africa) where we have applied the methodology developed for the Valencian Region. This paper presents the results obtained for precipitation associated to fronts of Atlantic origin; results show a very marked decrease in this type of rainfall for the whole Western Mediterranean basin.

Regionalization and synoptic analysis


The Western Mediterranean basin has been split into areas where precipitation is caused by a given synoptic setting, bearing in mind the windward or leeward orientation of the main flow and the coastal or inland characteristics of the area. As a result we have obtained a first division of the basin in four main areas for which the synoptic pattern of each input is the same:
1. Eastern Iberian Peninsula and Balearic Islands 2. Southern France and Northeastern extreme of the Iberian Peninsula 3. Italian Peninsula, Corsica, Sardinia and Southwestern half of Sicily 4.- Northern Africa (Northeast Morocco, North of Algeria and Tunisia).

Regionalization of the Western Mediterranean basin

Each sector is divided into areas where statistical analysis is applied and where correlations between synoptic settings and daily precipitation data are investigated. These subdivisions are:
Sector 1: 1a) Iberian Mediterranean coastal strip (except northeastern Catalonia), 1b) Iberian interior sector, 1c) Balearic Islands Sector 2: 1a) French Mediterranean coast and central and North Catalonia coast, 1b) Inland Southeastern France and central Pyrenees Sector 3: 3a) Western Italian coast and western side of Corsica and Sardinia, 3b) Central Italian Peninsula strip. 3c) Adriatic coast of Italy, 3d) Eastern seaboard of the islands of Corsica and Sardinia, 3rd) sector of Sicily and southern Italy in contact with the Ionian Sea. Sector 4: 4a) West coast of Algeria and Morocco's Mediterranean coast. 4b) East coast of Algeria, northern Tunisia and North-Northeast facade of Sicily. 4c) Transition band to the Sahara in the interior of North Africa and southern Tunisia.

Stations map

Data base
A database on daily precipitation in coastal and near coastal areas of the western Mediterranean basin has been collected for the period 1950-2007 (except North Africa). The selected stations belong to the South of France, Italy, North of Tunisia, Northern Algeria and Eastern Spain. In the Valencian Region a more comprehensive rainfall series from AEMET is available while for the rest of the basin we have used data from the Global Surface Summary of Day Data (GSOD), managed by the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC). This database, albeit with lower resolution, offers daily resolution data sets long enough for the Western Mediterranean. A total of 125 stations on the Mediterranean sector of the Iberian peninsula (mostly in the Valencia Region), 45 stations in Italy, 15 in South of France, 12 in northern Algeria, 6 in North Tunisia and 2 in Northeastern Morocco have been incorporated into the database. For the extraction of trends the authors have used the procedure of Singular Spectrum Analysis. This methods usefulness lies in its ability to extract information from the series, separating into different fields the trend component, oscillatory components, and random noise. Thus the series is decomposed in basic additive patterns using singular filters matched to the data by the covariance matrix.

Main fluxes by area

Results
Southern France: No significant trend is found in the interior areas of this sector; nevertheless, a decrease in western frontal systems in the coastal areas is observed. 2a Eastern Iberian Peninsula: A decreasing trend is observed in precipitation coming from Atlantic frontal systems in both coastal and interior sectors. 1a 2b Italian Peninsula In most sectors of this area a clear decreasing trend is observed for precipitation coming from western frontal systems. Only the southern sector shows evidence of a very weak, not so clear, decrease, while in the central area (3b) there is a weak decline for much of the data period but a rise in recent years. 3a

3b

1b

3c

Northern frica: In the western sector of the North African coast a slight downward trend is observed while in the eastern and interior areas there is a slight upward trend. 4a 4b 4c 3d 3e

CONCLUSIONS In the framework of various research projects the authors have studied the precipitation regimes in the Western Mediterranean basin by disaggregating daily data series by synoptic weather situations that cause precipiation. For this purpose, the Western Mediterranean has been divided in four main areas, which in turn are subdivided into sectors according to their character as coastal or inland watersheds and according to their location upwind or downwind of the major wind flows. The four main areas are defined as East of the Iberian Peninsula, Southern France, Italian Peninsula and islands and North Africa. This paper shows the results for the zonal advections, rainfall related to the western component coming from Atlantic frontal systems. Based on the overall results, a decrease in both rainfall amounts and regional precipitation peaks is found for the whole of the Western Mediterranean basin. This downward trend can be seen in most areas (and sectors within the areas) throughout the whole western Mediterranean basin to a greater or lesser extent, except in the central sectors of Italy and North Africa. In the case of North Africa, a slight increase in precipitation caused by situations from the West is found in its eastern and interior parts while its western area shows a similar behaviour to the general decline in the whole basin. It should be noted that both spatial and temporal coverage of data sets in this area may question these results so it is necessary to get longer data series to review and deepen this study. The case of the central sector of Italy is more remarkable because precipitation in this area shows a clear rise in this type of rainfall at the end of the study period although during the previous years it had remained unchanged or went down slightly, it would thus be of interest to study the mechanisms that produced the precipitation rise in this area.

Bibliography
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Acknowledgments
This work has been funded by the Spanish Ministerio de Educacin y Ciencia through the projects GRACCIE (Programa CONSOLIDER-INGENIO 2010 CSD2007-00067), NIEVA (CGL2008-04550) and complementary action CGL2007-29847-E/CLI and by the European Comission through the EU Integrated project CIRCE (Proj. No. 036931-2). Fundacin CEAM is funded by the Generalitat Valenciana and Fundacin Bancaja.