Unraveling sub-seasonal precipitation variability in the Middle East via Indian Ocean sea surface temperature

Assaf Hochman*, Noam Shachar, Hezi Gildor

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study examines sub-seasonal precipitation anomalies, challenging to predict yet vital for society and the environment. Focusing on October, we investigate correlations between the Indian Ocean Dipole Mode Index (DMI), West Tropical Indian Ocean Index (WTIO), and Middle Eastern precipitation. We find robust correlations (~ 0.7), up to a two-month lag, demonstrating strong links between these climate indices and rainfall patterns, potentially suggesting sub-seasonal precipitation predictability. Over the past four decades, DMI and WTIO have shown a significant upward trend of ~ 0.4 °C, intensifying their impact on precipitation dynamics. This trend signifies evolving Indian Ocean climate patterns with potential regional consequences and is projected to continue in the twenty-first century. Significant correlations also emerge between DMI, WTIO, and maximum daily precipitation, highlighting their role in extreme rainfall events. Finally, our study attributes most of October’s precipitation variability to Indian Ocean sea surface temperature variations. These temperature anomalies influence the Indian Ocean’s Walker circulation, affecting water vapor flux to the Middle East and shaping regional precipitation. Our findings underscore the importance of these indices in understanding and predicting Middle East climate variability, revealing intricate ocean–atmosphere interactions.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number2919
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2024

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