Climate conditions and drought assessment with the Palmer Drought Severity Index in Iran: evaluation of CORDEX South Asia climate projections (2070–2099)

  • Alfonso Senatore
  • Somayeh Hejabi
  • Giuseppe Mendicino
  • Javad Bazrafshan
  • Parviz Irannejad


Climate change projections were evaluated over both the whole Iran and six zones having different precipitation regimes considering the CORDEX South Asia dataset, for assessing space–time distribution of drought occurrences in the future period 2070–2099 under RCP4.5 scenario. Initially, the performances of eight available CORDEX South Asia Regional Climate Models (RCMs) were assessed for the baseline period 1970–2005 through the GPCC v.7 precipitation dataset and the CFSR temperature dataset, which were previously selected as the most reliable within a set of five global datasets compared to 41 available synoptic stations. Though the CCLM RCM driven by the MPI-ESM-LR General Circulation Model is in general the most suitable for temperature and, together with the REMO 2009 RCM also driven by MPI-ESM-LR, for precipitation, their performances do not overwhelm other models for every season and zone in which Iranian territory was divided according to a principal component analysis approach. Hence, a weighting approach was tested and adopted to take into account useful information from every RCM in each of the six zones. The models resulting more reliable compared to current climate show a strong precipitation decrease. Weighted average predicts an overall yearly precipitation decrease of about 20%. Temperature projections provide a mean annual increase of 2.4 °C. Future drought scenarios were depicted by means of the self-calibrating version of the Palmer drought severity index (SC-PDSI) model. Weighted average predicts a sharp drying that can be configured as a real shift in mean climate conditions, drastically affecting water resources of the country.


Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI) Principal components analysis (PCA) RCMs weighting RCP4.5 CCLM REMO GPCC v.7 dataset CFSR dataset 



The authors thank the Executive Editor Susanna Corti and the anonymous reviewers for their critical and constructive reviews, which helped to improve the quality of the paper. They acknowledge the World Climate Research Programme’s Working Group on Regional Climate, and the Working Group on Coupled Modelling, former coordinating body of CORDEX and responsible panel for CMIP5. They also thank the climate modelling groups (listed in Table 2 of this paper) for producing and making available their model outputs and acknowledge the Earth System Grid Federation infrastructure, an international effort led by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison, the European Network for Earth System Modelling and other partners in the Global Organisation for Earth System Science Portals (GO-ESSP). The GPCC v.7 dataset is provided by NOAA/OAR/ESRL/PSD, Boulder, Colorado, USA, the CRU-TS v.3.23 dataset by the Climatic Research Unit, University of East Anglia, the CFSR dataset by the Climate Forecast System Reanalysis (CFSR) project carried out by the Environmental Modelling Center (EMC), National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP). The European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) provides the access to the ERA-Interim and ERA-20C datasets. The Iranian Meteorological Organization (IRIMO) is appreciated for providing the observed data. The Oak Ridge National Laboratory Distributed Active Archive Center (ORNL DACC) is appreciated for providing the soil water-holding capacity dataset. Somayeh Hejabi gratefully acknowledges Iranian Ministry of Science, Research and Technology (MSRT) for the financial support during her stay in Italy in the period January-August 2016.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 210 KB)


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Environmental and Chemical EngineeringUniversity of CalabriaRendeItaly
  2. 2.Department of Irrigation and Reclamation, Faculty of Agricultural Engineering and TechnologyUniversity of TehranKarajIran
  3. 3.Department of Space Physics, Institute of GeophysicsUniversity of TehranTehranIran

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