Modulation of Winter Precipitation Dynamics Over the Arabian Gulf by ENSO

S. Sandeep, R. S. Ajayamohan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Arabian Gulf (Gulf) and the surrounding regions are centers of intense economic activity. The precipitating weather systems that form over the Gulf are important for this predominantly arid region. It is suggested that El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) influences the Middle East precipitation variability through an equatorward shift of the subtropical jet. Here we present compelling evidence to illustrate the role of ENSO in modulating the local dynamics and moisture transport in initiating precipitation during different ENSO phases using satellite and reanalysis data. It is found that the moisture transport from the Red and Arabian Seas toward the Gulf is stronger during El Niño years. The pattern and strength of moisture transport toward the Gulf is weakened during La Niña and neutral years, with most of the transport directed toward the northern Gulf. Using a 120 h back trajectory analysis, it is found that while the air parcels coming toward the Gulf from the Arabian and Red Seas side originate at lower tropospheric levels, the air parcels from the Mediterranean originate at middle and upper tropospheric levels during El Niño years. In contrast, upper tropospheric air parcels originating over the southern Arabian Sea plays a dominant role on Gulf precipitation during La Niña and neutral years. The seasonal mean transients of zonal winds show a robust ENSO signature over the Gulf, indicating a favorable (less favorable) condition for the penetration of midlatitude eddies over the region during El Niño (La Niña) winters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)198-210
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 16 2018


  • Arabian Gulf winter precipitation
  • ENSO

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science
  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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