Theoretical and Applied Climatology

, Volume 132, Issue 1–2, pp 363–373 | Cite as

Regionalization of precipitation characteristics in Iran’s Lake Urmia basin

  • Nasim Fazel
  • Ronny Berndtsson
  • Cintia Bertacchi Uvo
  • Kaveh Madani
  • Bjørn Kløve
Original Paper


Lake Urmia in northwest Iran, once one of the largest hypersaline lakes in the world, has shrunk by almost 90% in area and 80% in volume during the last four decades. To improve the understanding of regional differences in water availability throughout the region and to refine the existing information on precipitation variability, this study investigated the spatial pattern of precipitation for the Lake Urmia basin. Daily rainfall time series from 122 precipitation stations with different record lengths were used to extract 15 statistical descriptors comprising 25th percentile, 75th percentile, and coefficient of variation for annual and seasonal total precipitation. Principal component analysis in association with cluster analysis identified three main homogeneous precipitation groups in the lake basin. The first sub-region (group 1) includes stations located in the center and southeast; the second sub-region (group 2) covers mostly northern and northeastern part of the basin, and the third sub-region (group 3) covers the western and southern edges of the basin. Results of principal component (PC) and clustering analyses showed that seasonal precipitation variation is the most important feature controlling the spatial pattern of precipitation in the lake basin. The 25th and 75th percentiles of winter and autumn are the most important variables controlling the spatial pattern of the first rotated principal component explaining about 32% of the total variance. Summer and spring precipitation variations are the most important variables in the second and third rotated principal components, respectively. Seasonal variation in precipitation amount and seasonality are explained by topography and influenced by the lake and westerly winds that are related to the strength of the North Atlantic Oscillation. Despite using incomplete time series with different lengths, the identified sub-regions are physically meaningful.


Lake Urmia Rainfall-generating systems Spatial pattern Principal component analysis Homogeneous precipitation sub-regions Iran 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Water Resources and Environmental Engineering, Faculty of TechnologyUniversity of OuluOuluFinland
  2. 2.Center for Middle Eastern StudiesLund UniversityLundSweden
  3. 3.Department of Water Resources EngineeringLund UniversityLundSweden
  4. 4.Centre for Environmental PolicyImperial College LondonLondonUK
  5. 5.Department of Physical GeographyStockholm UniversityStockholmSweden

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