The Indian summer monsoon keeps the Arabian Peninsula hot and dry

Air circulation systems, or jet streams, control many aspects of the Arabian Peninsula climate, and can trigger severe heat waves and sandstorms.
© 2018 KAUST

The influence of the Indian summer monsoon on the climate of the Arabian Peninsula has been described for the first time by KAUST researchers. This could lead to more accurate models for forecasting how the monsoons impact the region’s weather.

The Arabian Peninsula is one of the world’s most arid and water-stressed regions, with the summer months characterized by frequent heat waves and dust storms. Various large-scale processes, such as the El Niño Southern Oscillation and the North Atlantic Oscillation, play a significant role on the region’s weather and climate.

Heat generated by the Indian summer monsoon rains also influences the Arabian Peninsula summer monsoon circulation, affecting the regional climate through a variety of interconnected physical processes.

However, the role played by the Indian summer monsoon in modulating the Arabian Peninsula’s climate is little understood, particularly the way in which the region’s climate variability is affected by year-to-year variations, classified as strong and weak Indian summer monsoon years.

Now, Raju Attada, and a team lead by Ibrahim Hoteit, in collaboration with researchers from the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, have investigated how annual variations in the Indian Summer Monsoon impact the Arabian Peninsula’s climate and the changes associated with strong and weak monsoons.

“The Arabian Peninsula is a water-scarce region and one of the most vulnerable in the world,” says Attada. “Therefore, understanding how changes in Indian summer monsoon activity influence the Arabian Peninsula summer climate is of great importance as it impacts almost every aspect of life, from weather extremes, pollution and health to water resources and renewable energy.”

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