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The relation of climate extremes with global warming in the Mediterranean region and its north versus south contrast


This study uses the results of 28 CMIP5 global climate projections to link regional climate extremes in the Mediterranean region to the global mean annual surface temperature change. It shows that global warming will further increase the existing difference in intensity of precipitation and hydrological extremes between north and south Mediterranean areas (SMed and NMed, respectively), while the increase/decrease of warm/cold temperature extremes will be only marginally larger in the SMed. The Simple daily precipitation intensity index (SDII) and the total precipitation during very wet days (R95pTOT) are already larger in the NMed than in the SMed; they will increase with global warming at a rate of approximately 0.1 mm/K and 5 mm/K, respectively, in the NMed, with no significant change in the SMed. The maximum number of consecutive dry days (CDD) is already larger in the SMed than in the NMed and will increase more in the former than in the latter (rates are about 8 days/K and 5 days/K, respectively). Global warming will not affect the difference of maximum number of consecutive wet days (CWD), which is presently larger in the NMed than in the SMed and will decrease at a similar rate (about 0.5 days/K) in both areas. Changes of temperature extremes (warm nights, TN90p, and cold days, TX10p) will be similar in the north and south Mediterranean, though marginally larger in several areas of the SMed than in the NMed. Their increase will be dramatic and with a 4 K global warming almost all nights will be warm and there will be no cold days.

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  1. Source: United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2017). World Population Prospects: The 2017 Revision, custom data acquired via website.

  2. Source: United Nations:

  3. Among brackets, the 10th to 90th percentile range is reported.

  4. Among brackets, the 10th to 90th percentile range is reported.

  5. Here, the definition of warm nights and cold days is based on the 1961–1990 reference period



annual maximum length of consecutive dry days; units, number of days


Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5


annual maximum length of consecutive wet days; units, number of days


global climate model


global mean annual surface air temperature anomaly


per capita gross national income


Mediterranean region (from 30 N to 46 N and from 7 W to 37 E)


north Mediterranean areas (areas of MedR north of 38 N)


standard daily intensity index (mean daily precipitation during wet days; units, millimeter)


south Mediterranean areas (areas of MedR south of 38 N)


special report on emission scenarios


average annual total precipitation in days exceeding the 95th percentile intensity threshold (units, millimeter)


regional climate model


representative concentration pathway


percent of warm nights, fraction (%) of days with minimum temperature above the 90th percentile of the daily minimum temperature of the 1961–1990 period


percent of cold days, fraction (%) of days with maximum temperature below the 10th percentile of the daily maximum temperature of the 1961–1990 period


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Lionello, P., Scarascia, L. The relation of climate extremes with global warming in the Mediterranean region and its north versus south contrast. Reg Environ Change 20, 31 (2020).

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  • Mediterranean region
  • Climate change
  • Extremes
  • Precipitation
  • Temperature
  • Hydrological cycle