An evaluation of 23 models, participating in the Coupled Model Inter-comparison Project phase 5 (CMIP5), in representing extreme precipitation indices (EPI), over the Eastern Mediterranean (EM) and the Fertile Crescent (FC), was performed. The models ensemble was then used to predict the EPIs evolution in the 21st century under (Representative Concentration Pathway, RCP) RCP4.5 and RCP8.5 scenarios. Models' performance was determined with respect to gridded precipitation observations from the APHRODITE project. The ensemble mean was found to perform relatively well in capturing the EM steep precipitation gradient, the FC structure and the EPI trends in the observations period (1970–2000). Over the EM, CMIP5 models agree on a future decrease in the following three EPIs; total precipitation (TP), consecutive wet days, and number of wet days by the values of 20–35%, 10–20%, and 20–35%, respectively. In the FC, extremely wet days (P95) are expected to increase by approximately 25%, except for the south eastern coasts of the Mediterranean Sea, which show significant decreases in P95, particularly for RCP8.5 and at the end of the 21st century. Hence, while TP is expected to decrease, extreme precipitation is expected to increase, at least for the north-eastern part of the FC. This will significantly influence agriculture and floods' potential in a region already suffering from political unrest. The changes in EPIs are related to changes in the synoptic patterns over the EM, especially the predicted changes in cyclones frequency and intensity in the 21st century, due to changes in storm tracks governed by the phase of the North Atlantic Oscillation and the expected expansion of the Hadley Cell towards the poles in a warmer climate.
- Eastern Mediterranean
- Fertile Crescent
- climate models
- extreme precipitation indices
- model ensemble