A multiscale approach to statistical downscaling of daily precipitation: Israel as a test case

Dor Sandler*, Hadas Saaroni, Baruch Ziv, Assaf Hochman, Nili Harnik, Dorita Rostkier-Edelstein

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Rainfall in the Eastern Mediterranean is strongly modulated by complex topography and localized mesoscale processes. General circulation models (GCMs) struggle to capture daily precipitation variability in the region, both in time and in space. Rain in the Eastern Mediterranean occurs within a hierarchy of scales, as synoptic scale structures often drive local rainfall patterns. Daily rain prediction in the region can therefore benefit from analog downscaling—a nonlinear regression of a high-resolution predictand from past synoptic-scale predictors. We present a multiscaled downscaling algorithm of daily rain over Israel. The underlying goal is to create a mechanism-based tool that will improve the analysis and prediction of precipitation on short time scales in models that cannot produce the field explicitly. We train the algorithm using coarse grid ERA5 reanalysis data and measurements from 21 rain gauges. The routine uses a k-nearest neighbours algorithm to find the most similar past instances (i.e., analogs) for every predicted day. Analog selection is performed in two steps, based on scale (synoptic and local), as to not overshadow correlative but local predictors. The algorithm also includes several unique aspects tailored to Mediterranean climate: subdaily predictors of cyclone life cycles; representation of upper level cyclonic drivers; and the inclusion of rainfall potential using the Modified K-Index (MKI). The proposed algorithm has better accuracy (66% correct predictions) compared to non-downscaled reanalysis and climatological predictions. It better captures the spatial rainfall variance, mitigates the “drizzle bias,” and improves skill in extreme event prediction. However, it underestimates very rainy events and has trouble fully representing the spatial variance in the region. Nonetheless, our algorithm represents the potential for computationally inexpensive downscaling of daily precipitation in the Mediterranean with various possible applications, for example, characterization of droughts and storms, linking hydrological and synoptic scale processes and introducing uncertainty estimates using large ensembles.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)59-71
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Climatology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors. International Journal of Climatology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Royal Meteorological Society.


  • Cyprus Low
  • Mediterranean
  • Middle East
  • Modified K-Index
  • extreme weather
  • prediction
  • weather analogs


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