Observed climate variability and change in Urmia Lake Basin, Iran
This paper analyzes climate variability and change in the Urmia Lake Basin, northwest of Iran. Annual average of the following data time series has been analyzed by statistical methods: dry bulb temperature, maximum and minimum temperature, precipitation, and number of rainy and snowy days. We have also used mean monthly temperature and precipitation data for analysis of drought spells for the period 1964-2005 to find out whether fluctuations in the lake level are attributable to natural drought. Our results indicate that mean precipitation has decreased by 9.2 % and the average maximum temperature has increased by 0.8A degrees C over these four decades. The seasonal changes are particularly visible in winter and spring. Results of the Palmer Drought Severity Index show that on average, drought episodes have hit the Urmia Lake Basin every 5 years and most of them reached severe levels, but recent droughts have become more intense and last longer.