Theoretical and Applied Climatology

, Volume 122, Issue 3–4, pp 667–683 | Cite as

Considering observed and future nonstationarities in statistical downscaling of Mediterranean precipitation

  • Elke HertigEmail author
  • Jucundus Jacobeit
Original Paper


Winter precipitation in the Mediterranean area for the twenty-first century was statistically downscaled under the explicit consideration of nonstationarities. Nonstationarities arise from substantial modifications of the atmospheric circulation, which lead to significant changes of regional precipitation characteristics. For the detection of nonstationarities in the relationships of the large-scale circulation and regional precipitation in the observational period, statistical model performance under potentially nonstationary conditions was compared to model performance under stationarity. To account for nonstationarity in the future projections, circulation characteristics in general circulation model (GCM) output used to downscale precipitation were also analysed. The correspondence of GCM and observed circulation characteristics was used to specifically select appropriate downscaling models. Statistical model performance was affected by nonstationarities, which was most pronounced not only in the north-eastern Mediterranean regions but also in western Mediterranean North Africa. Furthermore, it was found that variability in the GCM data used for the projections is at least as large as seen in the observational period. This finding underlines the need to explicitly take nonstationarities in statistical downscaling into account. As downscaling result we obtain mainly a reduction of the probability of rain and a rather indifferent pattern regarding the change of the 75 % up to the 95 % quantiles for most regions of the Mediterranean area until the end of the twenty-first century were mainly obtained. However, due to the nonstationarities, results depend strongly on the specific time periods under consideration.


North Atlantic Oscillation North Atlantic Oscillation Index Skill Score Statistical Downscaling Precipitation Region 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This project is funded by the German Research Foundation under contract HE 6186/2-1. We acknowledge the E-OBS data set from the EU-FP6 project ENSEMBLES (, the data providers in the ECA&D project (, the climate modelling groups and the World Climate Research Programme’s Working Group on Coupled Modelling for making available the CMIP5 data set. Also, we acknowledge the free availability of the NCEP reanalysis data.


  1. Barry RG, Kiladis G, Bradley RS (1981) Synoptic climatology of the Western United States in relation to climatic fluctuations during the twentieth century. J Climatol 1:97–113CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Beck C, Jacobeit J, Jones PD (2007) Frequency and within-type variations of large-scale circulation types and their effects on low-frequency climate variability in Central Europe since 1780. Int J Climatol 27:473–491CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Beniston M, Stephenson D, Christensen O, Ferro C, Frei C, Goyette S, Halsnaes K, Holt T, Jylhä K, Koffi B, Palutikof J, Schöll R, Semmler T, Woth K (2007) Future extreme events in European climate: an exploration of regional climate model projections. Clim Chang 81:71–95CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Beranová R, Huth R (2008) Time variations of the effects of circulation variability modes on European temperature and precipitation in winter. Int J Climatol 28:139–158CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Brier GW (1950) Verification of forecasts expressed in terms of probability. Mon Weather Rev 78:1–3CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cattiaux J, Douville H, Peings Y (2013) European temperatures in CMIP5: origins of present-day biases and future uncertainties. Clim Dyn. doi: 10.1007/s00382-013-1731-y Google Scholar
  7. Cheng X, Wallace JM (1993) Cluster analysis of the Northern hemisphere wintertime 500-hPa height field: spatial patterns. J Atmos Sci 50:2674–2696CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Christensen JH, Krishna Kumar K, Aldrian E, An S-I, Cavalcanti IFA, de Castro M, Dong W, Goswami P, Hall A, Kanyanga JK, Kitoh A, Kossin J, Lau N-C, Renwick J, Stephenson DB, Xie S-P, Zhou T (2013) Climate phenomena and their relevance for future regional climate change. In: Stocker TF, Qin D, Plattner G-K, Tignor M, Allen SK, Boschung J, Nauels A, Xia Y, Bex V, Midgley PM (eds) Climate change 2013: the physical science basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the fifth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  9. Donat MG, Peterson TC, Brunet M, King AD, Almazroui M, Kolli RK, Boucherf D, Al-Mulla AY, Nour AY, Aly AA, Nada TAA, Semawi MM, Al Dashti HA, Salhab TG, El Fadli KI, Muftah MK, Dah Eida S, Badi W, Driouech F, El Rhaz K, Abubaker MJY, Ghulam AS, Erayah AS, Mansour MB, Alabdouli WO, Al Dhanhani JS, Al Shekaili MN (2014) Changes in extreme temperature and precipitation in the Arab region: long-term trends and variability related to ENSO and NAO. Int J Climatol 34:581–592CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Dunn PK (2004) Occurrence and quantity of precipitation can be modelled simultaneously. Int J Climatol 24:1231–1239CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Dunn PK (2008) Tweedie: Tweedie exponential family models. R package, R package version 1.5.1. Vienna, AustriaGoogle Scholar
  12. Friederichs P, Thorarinsdottir T (2012) Forecast verification for extreme value distributions with an application to probabilistic peak wind prediction. Environmetrics 23:579–594CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Gao X, Pal JS, Giorgi F (2006) Projected changes in mean and extreme precipitation over the Mediterranean region from high resolution double nested RCM simulations. Geophys Res Lett 33, L03706Google Scholar
  14. Giorgi F, Lionello P (2008) Climate change projections for the Mediterranean area. Global Planet Chang 63:90–104CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Goubanova K, Li L (2007) Extremes in temperature and precipitation around the Mediterranean basin in an ensemble of future climate scenario simulations. Global Planet Chang 57:27–42CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hasan MM, Dunn PK (2011) Two Tweedie distributions that are near-optimal for modelling monthly rainfall in Australia. Int J Climatol 31:1389–1397CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hasan MM, Dunn PK (2012) Understanding the effect of climatology on monthly rainfall amounts in Australia using Tweddie GLMs. Int J Climatol 32:1006–1017CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Haylock MR, Hofstra N, Klein Tank AMG, Klok EJ, Jones PD, New M (2008) A European daily high-resolution gridded dataset of surface temperature and precipitation. J Geophys Res-Atmos 113, D20119. doi: 10.1029/2008JD10201 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hertig E, Jacobeit J (2014) Variability of weather regimes in the North Atlantic-European area: past and future. Atmos Sci Lett. doi: 10.1002/asl2.505 Google Scholar
  20. Hertig E, Jacobeit J (2013) A novel approach to statistical downscaling considering nonstationarities: application to daily precipitation in the Mediterranean area. J Geophys Res Atmos 118:520–533CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hertig E, Seubert S, Paxian A, Vogt G, Paeth H, Jacobeit J (2013a) Changes of total versus extreme precipitation and dry periods until the end of the twenty-first century: statistical assessments for the Mediterranean area. Theor Appl Climatol 111:1–20CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hertig E, Seubert S, Paxian A, Vogt G, Paeth H, Jacobeit J (2013b) Statistical modeling of extreme precipitation for the Mediterranean area under future climate change. Int J Climatol. doi: 10.1002/joc.3751 Google Scholar
  23. Hertig E, Jacobeit J (2008) Assessments of Mediterranean precipitation changes for the 21st century using statistical downscaling techniques. Int J Climatol 28:1025–1045CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hurrell J, Kushnir Y, Ottersen G, Visbeck M (eds) (2003) The North Atlantic Oscillation: climatic significance and environmental impact. Geophys. Monogr. Ser. 134, AGU, Washington, D.C.Google Scholar
  25. Iglesias A, Garrote L, Flores F, Moneo M (2007) Challenges to manage the risk of water scarcity and climate change in the Mediterranean. Wat Res Manag 21:775–788CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Jacob D, Petersen J, Eggert B, Alias A, Christensen O, Bouwer LM, Braun A, Colette A, Déqué M, Georgievski G, Georgopoulou E, Gobiet A, Menut L, Nikulin G, Haensler A, Hempelmann N, Jones C, Keuler K, Kovats S, Kröner N, Kotlarski S, Kriegsmann A, Martin E, Meijgaard E, Moseley C, Pfeifer S, Preuschmann S, Radermacher C, Radtke K, Rechid D, Rounsevell M, Samuelsson P, Somot S, Soussana J-F, Teichmann C, Valentini R, Vautard R, Weber B, Yiou P (2014) EURO-CORDEX: new high-resolution climate change projections for European impact research. Reg Environ Chang 14:563–578CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Jacobeit J, Dünkeloh A, Hertig E (2007) Mediterranean rainfall changes and their causes. In: Lozan J et al (eds) Global change: enough water for all? Wissenschaftliche Auswertungen, Hamburg, pp 195–199Google Scholar
  28. Kalnay E, Kanamitsu M, Kistler R, Collins W, Deaven D, Gandin L, Iredell M, Saha S, White G, Woollen J, Zhu Y, Chelliah M, Ebisuzaki W, Higgins W, Janowiak J, Mo KC, Ropelewski C, Wang J, Leetmaa A, Reynolds R, Jenne R, Joseph D (1996) The NCEP/NCAR 40-year reanalysis project. Bull Am Meteorol Soc 77:437–471CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Kistler R, Kalnay E, Collins W, Saha S, White G, Woollen J, Chelliah M, Ebisuzaki W, Kanamitsu M, Kousky V, van den Dool H, Jenne R, Fiorino M (2001) The NCEP/NCAR 50-year reanalysis: monthly means CD-ROM and documentation. Bull Am Meteorol Soc 82:247–268CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Kyselý J, Beguería S, Beranová R, Gaál L, López-Moreno J (2012) Different patterns of climate change scenarios for short-term and multi-day precipitation extremes in the Mediterranean. Glob Planet Change 98–99:63–72CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. López-Moreno JI, Vicente-Serrano SM, Morán-Tejeda E, Lorenzo-Lacruz J, Kenawy A, Benigston M (2011) Effects of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) on combined temperature and precipitation winter modes in the Mediterranean mountains: observed relationships and projections for the 21st century. Glob Planet Chang 77:62–76CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. McCullagh P, Nelder JA (1989) Generalized linear models. Monographs on statistics and applied probability 37. Chapman & Hall, LondonGoogle Scholar
  33. Meehl GA, Covey C, Delworth T, Latif M, McAvaney B, Mitchell JFB, Stouffer RJ, Taylor KE (2007) The WCRP CMIP3 multi-model dataset: a new era in climate change research. Bull Am Meteorol Soc 88:1383–1394CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Michelangeli PA, Vautard R, Legras B (1995) Weather regimes: recurrence and quasi stationarity. J Atmos Sci 52:1237–1256CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Moore GWK, Renfrew IA, Pickart RS (2013) Multidecadal mobility of the North Atlantic Oscillation. J Clim 26:2453–2466CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Philipp A, Della-Marta PM, Jacobeit J, Fereday DR, Jones PD, Moberg A, Wanner H (2007) Long term variability of daily North Atlantic-European pressure patterns since 1850 classified by simulated annealing clustering. J Clim 20(16):4065–4095CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Plaut G, Simonnet E (2001) Large-scale circulation classification, weather regimes, and local climate over France, the Alps and Western Europe. Clim Res 17:303–324CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Preisendorfer RW (1988) Principal component analysis in meteorology and oceanography. Developments in atmospheric science 17. Elsevier, AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  39. Quadrelli R, Pavan V, Molteni F (2001) Wintertime variability of Mediterranean precipitation and its links with large-scale circulation anomalies. Clim Dyn 17:457–466CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Raible CC, Lehner F, González-Rouco JF, Fernández-Donado L (2014) Changing correlation structures of the Northern Hemisphere atmospheric circulation from 1000 to 2100 AD. Clim Past 10:537–550CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Tebaldi C, Hayhoe K, Arblaster J, Meehl G (2006) Going to the extremes: an intercomparison of model-simulated historical and future changes in extreme events. Clim Chang 79:185–211CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Tramblay Y, El Adlouni S, Servat E (2013) Trends and variability in extreme precipitation indices over Maghreb countries. NHESS 13:3235–3248Google Scholar
  43. Ullmann A, Fontaine B, Roucou P (2014) Euro-Atlantic weather regimes and Mediterranean rainfall patterns: present-day variability and expected changes under CMIP5 projections. Int J Climatol 34:2634–2650CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Van Vuuren DP, Edmonds J, Kainuma M, Riahi K, Thomson A, Hibbard K, Hurtt G, Kram T, Krey V, Lamarque J-F, Meinshausen M, Masui T, Nakicenovic N, Smith S, Rose S (2011) The representative concentration pathways: an overview. Climatic Change 109:5–31Google Scholar
  45. Vautard R (1990) Multiple weather regimes over the North Atlantic: analysis of precursors and successors. Mon Weather Rev 18:2056–2081CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Von Storch H, Zwiers FW (1999) Statistical analysis in climate research. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, p 484Google Scholar
  47. Wanner H et al (2001) North Atlantic Oscillation—concepts and studies. Surv Geophys 22:321–382CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Ward J (1963) Hierarchical grouping to optimize an objective function. J Am Stat Assoc 58:236–244CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Wilks DS (2006) Statistical methods in the atmospheric sciences. Elsevier, AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  50. Yiou P, Nogaj M (2004) Extreme climatic events and weather regimes over the North Atlantic: when and where? Geophys Res Lett 31, L07202Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of GeographyUniversity of AugsburgAugsburgGermany

Personalised recommendations