Quantifying Asynchronicity of Precipitation and Potential Evapotranspiration in Mediterranean Climates

Xue Feng, Sally E. Thompson, Ross Woods, Amilcare Porporato

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Recent climate change has contributed to shifts in the seasonal interplay between precipitation and potential evapotranspiration, which have in turn increased droughts and reduced freshwater availability in Mediterranean climate regions. To overcome limitations in existing indices for comparing these seasonal hydroclimatic drivers at the global scale, we introduce an information theory-based, nonparametric asynchronicity index that captures both the temporal alignment and relative magnitudes of precipitation and potential evapotranspiration. We use this asynchronicity index to first identify Mediterranean climates around the world. We then apply the asynchronicity index over two Mediterranean climate regions and show that their boundaries have shifted between 1960 and 2018, resulting in a regional expansion in the U.S. Pacific Northwest and a contraction in southwestern Australia. These results highlight the need for globally consistent measures of seasonal climatic water supply and demand for diagnosing potential changes in water resources and ecosystem responses within Mediterranean climate regions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14692-14701
Number of pages10
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number24
StatePublished - Dec 28 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


  • Mediterranean climates
  • classification
  • information theory
  • phenology
  • synchronicity
  • water resources


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