Global warming projected water cycle changes over the Mediterranean, East and West: a comparison study of a super-high resolution global model with cmip3

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Global warming projected water cycle changes over the Mediterranean, East and West: A comparison study of a super-high resolution global model with CMIP3

Fengjun Jin1Akio Kitoh2 and Pinhas Alpert1*

Sep 2009

Revised May 2010

To be submitted to Philosophical Transactions A

A Special Issue for the Royal Society Meeting 9-10 November 2009 on "Water and society: Past, present & future"

P. Alpert, invited talk

1Department of Geophysics and Planetary Sciences, Tel-Aviv University, Tel-Aviv, Israel

2Meteorological Research Institute, Tsukuba, Japan

* Corresponding author

Key index words:

Mediterranean, Water cycle, Rivers, Global warming


The water cycle components over the Mediterranean both for current (1979-2007) and future run (2075-2099) are studied with the Japan Meteorological Agency’s 20km grid global climate model. Results are compared to another study using the CMIP3 ensemble model (here after Mariotti).

Our results are surprisingly close to Mariotti's. The projected mean annual change rate of precipitation (P) between future and current run for sea and land, are -11% and -10%, respectively, not as high as Mariotti's. Projected changes for evaporation (E) are +9.3% and -3.6%, compared to +7.2% and -8.1% in Mariotti’s study. However, no significant difference of change in P-E over the sea body is found between these two studies. The increased E over the eastern Mediterranean was found higher than the western Mediterranean, but the P decrease is lower. The net moisture budget, P-E, shows that the eastern Mediterranean will become even drier than the western Mediterranean. The river model suggests decreasing water inflow to the Mediterranean of about 36% (excluding the Nile).

  1. Introduction

The Mediterranean Sea is a marginal and semi-enclosed sea. It is located in a transitional zone, where both mid-latitude and tropical dynamics play an important role (Alpert et al., 1990). The complex topography over the Mediterranean region yields a unique climate within this small area with steep gradients. Lack of water is a specific feature over this densely populated region, particularly over the Middle East region. The trend of global warming makes the topic of water resources much moreparticularly sensitive over the Mediterranean (Ziv et al., 2005), as also reported by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) (IPCC, 2007). Therefore, a better understanding of the distribution of the atmospheric moisture budget components over this region is of great significance.

The dynamic factors which influence the moisture fields over the Mediterranean region are complicated. Except the regional small synoptic scale factors, the earlier studiesresults have also shown that the climate of the Mediterranean region has significant teleconnections, such as the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) (Fraedrich, 1994; Price et al., 1998; Diaz et al., 2001); variabilities of South Asian Monsoon and Africa Monsoon (Reddaway and Bigg, 1996; Rodwell and Hoskins, 1996; Chou and Neelin, 2003; Ziv et al., 2004), as well as the large increase in Red-Sea trough frequencies (Alpert et al., 2004) and also to Tropical Cyclones (Krichak et al., 2004). To better encompass all the factors into consideration, the climate model is an essential tool to study the future moisture budget and the water cycle changes over this area. Several studies concerning the climate change over the Mediterranean region based on several climate models have been carried out recently (Gibelin and Deque, 2003; Alpert et al., 2008; Giorgi and Lionello, 2008; Mariotti et al., 2008). Mariotti et al., (2008) (here after, MARIO) studied the water cycle changes over the Mediterranean region, by using data from the multi-model projections of the World Climate Research Program/Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 3 (WCRP/CMIP3). They concluded that a transition to a drier 21st century is expected over the Mediterranean region, the result is also consistent with Seager et al. (2007) employing ensemble climate models. However, nearly all of the model data employed for the future climate studies use quiteare coarse resolutions, with a typical horizontal spatial resolution greater thanof at least 100-200km. Therefore, it is quite interesting to compare these results with a super-high resolution global grid climate model.

This study aims to perform a comparison study of the changes in the future moisture budget components over the Mediterranean region between MARIO results and those from a super-high resolution global climate model. Also, a brief study of predicted changes of Mediterranean Sea water discharge by using a river model is described.

2. Data and methodology

2.1 The super-high resolution global climate model (GCM)

To study the climate changes over the Mediterranean region, a super-high resolution 20km grid GCM developed at the Meteorological Research Institute (MRI) of the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), was employed. It is a climate-model version of the operational numerical weather prediction model used in the JMA. A detailed description of the model is given in Mizuta et al. (2006). The two runs of the 20km GCM cover the time periods 1979-2007 for current/control and 2075-2099 for the future. The control run used the observed monthly sea surface temperatures (SST) and sea-ice distribution, while the future run used the SST and sea-ice concentration anomalies of the multi-model ensemble projected by CMIP3 under the Special Report on Emission Scenario (SRES) A1B emission scenario. Details of the method are found in Mizuta et al. (2008). The JMA 20km GCM data have been validated against past climate over the Middle East as well as over the Mediterranean region, details can be found in Kitoh et al. (2008a).

2.2 The River model

The river flow model in this study is the Global River flow model using the Total Runoff Integrating Pathways (TRIP) (GRiveT) developed at the MRI. TRIP is a global river channel network in a 0.5ºby 0.5º grid originally designed by Oki and Sud (1998). The effective flow velocity is set at 0.40 m/s for all rivers following studies that use flow velocities ranging from 0.3 to 0.5 m/s (Oki et al., 1999). It should be notediced here that flow velocities are not constant and can vary widely from 0.15 to 2.1 m/s (Arora and Boer, 1999). In the process of simulation, GRiveT distributes the runoff water on the model grids into TRIP grids with a weight that is estimated by the ratio of the overlaid area on both grids. GRiveT then transports the runoff water to the river outlet along the river channel through TRIP. It should be emphasized that GRiveT does not account for any human consumption, i.e. irrigation, dam or natural losses, i.e. infiltration, of the river water,; which therefore it might cause some differenceserrors between the model and the observed river flow, as notediced, for instance, with the Nile river flow in Egypt as analyzed later.

Two time periods monthly mean of the climatological river model data were investigated in this study:, the control/current run (1979-2003) and the future projection (2075-2099).

2.3 Study area and season

Following MARIO, a domain that covers the Mediterranean, Middle East, Europe and North Africa, was selected to investigate the large scale moisture budget components changes. It was defined by the latitude 20°-60°N and longitude 20W°-70°E with a total area approximatelybout 3.1×107 km2. The Mediterranean Sea covers the domain 10ºW-40ºE and 28ºN-47ºN with the total area of water body of about 2.5×106 km2. In addition, the Mediterranean Sea was sub-divided into the west and east of Mediterranean Sea region at the 15ºE longitudinal line in order to study moisture budget for the two sub-basins separately. The wet season was defined as from October-March, and the rest of the year (April-September) as the dry season.

3. Results and discussions

3.1 Seasonal moisture fields changes over the large domain

The seasonal change of the area mean evaporation (E), Precipitation (P) and P-E between the future and control runs (future minus control) over the large domain results based on the 20km GCM are shown in Fig. 1. In general, our results are very close to thoseat of MARIO. During the wet season (left panels), three belts of changing precipitation can be identified clearly from south to north (Fig. 1a), which are with no significant change, decrease and increase of precipitation. These three belts are located below 30 ºN, 30º-42ºN and above 42ºN, respectively. The peak of precipitation decrease is located at the northern boundary of eastern Mediterranean Sea with athe magnitude of over 0.5 mm/day (about 100 mm/season). Jin et al., (2009) investigated the moisture budget over the Middle East by using 20km GCM data, and results indicateddemonstrated that the 20km GCM shows its credible performance incredibly simulatesing the current precipitation regime over the eastern Mediterranean region.

Comparing the present and future simulations, dDuring the dry season, as compared with the wet season, the belt of precipitation decreases moves a bit to the north (Fig. 1b), probably due to the northward shift of Hadley Cell. The Ddetailed discussions of poleward widening of the Hadley Cell based on the different datasets can be found in Held and Soden, (2006), Lu et al., (2007) and Johanson and Fu, (2009). They also discussed some differences in the Hadley Cell expansion as seen in the observations and reanalysis data. This causes most of the southern and central European countries, which are adjacent to the Mediterranean Sea, to become drier in summer season in the future. For the change of the evaporation, E, both wet and dry season show as similar patterns (Fig. 1c, d). However, a significant difference can be found over the north Mediterranean coast, i.e. an increasing E during the wet season (Fig. 1c) but decreasing E during the dry season (Fig. 1d). As expected, all the water bodies show evaporation increases consistent with the sea surface temperature and air temperature increases, based on A1B emission scenario. The change of the net moisture budget, i.e. P-E, for both wet and dry seasons, show that the Mediterranean Sea becomes drier (Fig. 1e, f). A major difference is that, the P-E is decreasingis projected to decrease during the wet season, but increaseing during the dry season over the north Mediterranean coast. This could be the consequence of changes inof E over the same area as discussed above. This finding can not be identified in MARIO. In addition, limited by the spatial resolution, the change of P, E and P-E for the famous “fertile crescent” which is located at the Middle East, can be easily identified in the 20km GCM, but is not clear in MARIO, as earlier suggested by Kitoh et al., (2008a).

Table 1 shows the projected future changes of the mean P, E and P-E, separated for annual, wet and dry seasons, and also for the land and sea bodies over the Mediterranean region. When compared with MARIO (MARIO results are in parentheses), the annual changes of P for sea and land from 20km GCM are -11% (-15%) and -10% (-15.5%) respectively. The smaller decreases in P in this study, are perhaps due to the different time periods for the control run used between these two studies, which are 1979-2007 and 1950-2000, respectively. The annual changes of E for sea and land areas areis 9.3% (7.2%) and -3.6% (-8.1%). The reason for the big difference in E-changes over land between these two studies might be due to the different features of models used in each study. However, the annual projected changes of P-E for the sea body is quite close, i.e., -26% (-24%). For the wet season, the projected changes of P, E and P-E inbetween these two studies agree quite well each other, both qualitatively and quantitatively, except for the change of E over the land area. FBut, for the dry season, in contrast, there are distinct differences in the projected changes of E and P. These differences also result in the annual differences between these two studies as discussed above. Another factor contributing to the differences between the two studies comes certainly from the very different spatial resolutions of the models in the studies. However, it is hard to figure out explicitly which factor is the key one in determining of these differences.

3.2 Changes of monthly running means of E, P and P-E over the Mediterranean

Fig. 2 shows the seasonal cycles (three months running mean) of E, P and P-E for the sea and land areas separately. Again, the results generally fit MARIOs, especially for the sea area (Fig. 2a). However, there are some interesting differences. For instance, the simulated summer P over the land area from the 20km model is larger than that of MARIO, by a factor of about two (Fig. 2b). The same analysis by using the climate research unit (CRU) data, which are derived from the observations, exhibits has thea similar pattern tolike MARIO, but somewhat over evaluated estimated the precipitation for the winter season (Fig. 2b). It seems that the 20km run overestimates the summer P of land area. A plausible explanation is that, the total land area over our research is relatively small, and the topographically forced precipitation has a significant influence over the complex water-land region, particularly in the summer as the local forcing plays an important role in precipitation genesis. On the other hand, no significant difference of land precipitation in the winter was found between these two studies, probably due to the fact that winter precipitation is mostly influenced by the synoptic systems. Jin et al., (2009) showed that, compare to CRU, the 20km GCM has a better performance in capturing the land area precipitation. Hence, the coarse resolution models seem to be unable to capture the detailed precipitation information over such a small land area, i.e. only several grid points data can be obtained from the coarse data. The P-E curves suggest that both the land and the sea area of Mediterranean region will become more arid in the future, and the sea area will be even worseexperience even greater decreases in precipitation than compared to the land area.

3.3 Comparing West & East Mediterranean

The quite different geographical positions of the western (WMS) and the eastern Mediterranean Seas (EMS), which are neighboring toneighbour the huge moist Atlantic Ocean on the west and the arid Middle East on the east respectively, make it interesting to compare the moisture budgets in both. Fig. 3a shows not surprisingly, that the current (present climate) evaporation of the EMS is higher than that of WMS, with annual average values of 3.9 and 3.5 mm/day, respectively. This is probably due to the EMS being closer to the hot climate of the arid Middle East as well as the Indian monsoon, leading to significant subsidence over the EMS in summer as reported by Rodwell and Hoskins, (1996) and further discussed by Ziv et al (2004). It should be also noticed that the maximum evaporation for the EMS and WMS appears during the winter and autumn seasons. This result is consistent with Jin and Zangvil (2009), who employeding NASA reanalysis data. For the current precipitation, except forto the central winter season (Dec-Jan), the average EMS precipitation is lower than that ofthe WMS (Fig. 3a), with the mean annual value of 1.5 and 1.8 mm/day, respectively. This result is probably related to the WMS receiving more moisture from the Atlantic Ocean than the EMS area. Another reason is that the northern part of the WMS is fuarther north and therefore closer to the baroclinic zone. The P-E of the current day run for the EMS and WMS again indicates that the EMS is significantly drier than the WMS, especially during the summer and the autumn seasons (Fig. 3a).

Fig. 3b shows the model projected changes of P, E and P-E over the water body of the EMS and the WMS between 1979-2007 and 2075-2099. The E changes show a dominant increasing E trend for both regions, except that there isfor some decrease of E for the WMS in the spring (March). The magnitude of E increase in the EMS is higher than that of the WMS, with the average values of +0.45 and +0.22 mm/day, respectively. It is not clear why an E decrease is projected in the spring season for the WMS in the future. Another finding is that in spite of projected P-decrease in both the EMS and the WMS, the magnitudes in the WMS are higher than that of EMS with the mean value of --0.21 and -0.16 mm/day, respectively, except for the winter season (Fig. 3b). However, P-E still shows that the EMS becomes drier than the WMS in the future, with the mean values of P-E changes, of -0.61 and -0.43 mm/day, respectively. That means, that the already drier EMS is projected to become even drier compared to the WMS.

3.4 Change of river discharge over Mediterranean region

In order to obtain a more complete picture of the water cycle budget for the Mediterranean region, it is interesting to also examine the projected changes of the river discharges, although it has a close relation with the precipitation regime, especially for those main rivers flowing into the Mediterranean Sea.

Fig. 4 shows the changes in the runoff over land and the changes in the river flow rates between future (2075-2099) and current (1979-2003) periods based on the MRI river model. Fig. 4a shows a clear decrease of the runoff over the continent of the north Mediterranean region with a mean value of approximatelyabout -10 m3/s, primarily as a result of the decreasing precipitation in the region. As a consequence, the flow rate of most of the rivers over this area is decreasing (Fig. 4b). It is interesting to note that, the river model also shows that the Nile River is projected to have an increased ing its flow rate in the future. This is due to the projected increase in rainfall in the tropics tropical area projected to be wetter as suggested by some studies, as discussed in detailalso by Kitoh et al., 2008a.

To further investigate the change of river discharge, several large rivers flowing into the Mediterranean Sea, were selected in a similar manner to MARIO. The rivers' names and the countries where the estuaries are located are as follows:; Ebro in Spain; Rhone in France; Po in Italy; Maritsa in Turkey; and the Nile River in Egypt, respectively. In addition, the Jordan River, as the only river which does not flow into the Mediterranean was also selected in order to examine its change of flow rate at the estuary of the Dead Sea. The reason for doing this is that, the Jordan River is not only the maina main water resource for the bordering countries in the East Mediterranean, ; but , because it also has a significant influence on the water balance of Dead Sea, and hence as well as its role on the life in this sensitive region.

Instead of calculating the mean flow rate of the rivers, only the flow rates at the estuaries for each river was examined because of our great concern forto the potential variations in the river discharges into the Mediterranean Sea.

Fig. 5 shows that except for the Nile River, a decreasing trend of monthly mean river discharges is projected for the future. TheA most dramatic decrease of river discharge is found for the rivers Ebro, Maritsa and the Jordan River. The decreasing magnitude of the annual average discharge for the rivers Ebro, Rhone, Po, Maritsa and the Jordan River are 108, 307, 146, 184 and 19 m3/s, corresponding to percentages of 46, 26, 18, 54 and 85% respectively. The decrease of discharge for the EM rivers Maritsa and the Jordan River is particularly large, i.e., even more than a half compared to the current rate. It should be mentioned here that, , compared to the observed data, that the current simulation of the river discharge byfrom the river model shows similar seasonal course from month to month. F, for instance, the Ebro River peaks in Mar/Apr and gets its minimum in Jul/Aug. However, the results from the river model underestimate the flow rate by a factor of two compared with the observed data except forto the Nile River, where the deviation is much larger. Possible explanations for the error might be due to the simplified river model, which relies on the model estimation of the runoff, and the still relatively coarse spatial resolution of the river model. This error can be reduced to some degree when we focus on the difference of the river discharge between the future and the current. For further discussion on the Nile results see Kitoh et al (2008b).

An increasing trend of discharge with the value of about 2090 m3/s was calculated only for the Nile. It should be also noticed here that the river model does not take into account any anthropogenic influences into the model consideration. Therefore, there are additional discrepancies for the river discharge between the model and observed dataresult. For example, the river discharge for the river Nile from the model is higher than the observed data due to the huge Aswan dam constructed across the river in Egypt (Kitoh et al., 2008b). In addition, the Nile is the largest river that flows into the Mediterranean, and it has a crucial role in the balance of the river discharges in the Mediterranean. However, as the model showed, the absolute value of increasing discharge from the Nile River only, is larger than the sum of all decreasing discharges from the other four rivers. Hence, it may seem that an overall surplus of river discharge was projected by this analysis. But, we should keep in mind, except the model errors mentioned above that there are numerous other small rivers over the European continent and isolated islands that flow into the Mediterranean, and all of those rivers arewere projected to have experience a decrease in their discharge (Fig. 4b).

In agreement with this study, the MARIO study also showed the decrease inof river discharges for some rivers based on the observed data. Therefore, a future water deficit is projected over the Mediterranean. Moreover, researches hashave shown that the salinity of the Mediterranean is increasing steadily from the observed data even in the recent decades (Millot et al., 2006). These results might be duecaused byto the combined effect of decreasing of P, increasing of E andas well as the deficit water discharge in the Mediterranean region.

4. Summary

The JMA 20km grid global climate model data were introduced to make a comparison study with Mariotti et al. (2008) ofabout the water cycle components over the Mediterranean region. OIn athe large spatial scale, results from these two studies are close similar to each other, but there are some important differences. Precipitation future decreases are projected by both studies, but the drop of precipitation both for land and sea from the 20km resolution model is not as high (4 percent lower) compared to MARIO’s for the annual time scale. The seasonal cycle of precipitation, evaporation and precipitation minus evaporation over the land and sea area of the Mediterranean region results from these two studies are similar. On the other hand, there are some significant differences between these two studies. For example, such, as the water cycle change over the famous “fertile crescent” that isare simulated quite well by the 20km run compared to the coarser MARIO model;, and the summer seasonal cycle of precipitation from the 20km run, which that is larger than in MARIO, by a factor of about two. The comparison of the water cycle over the water bodies of the western and the eastern Mediterranean show that for the current climate, the evaporation of the eastern Mediterranean is higher than that of the western Mediterranean with an average value of 0.4 mm/day, with the opposite true for precipitation it is opposite, i.e. less than in the WMS with an average value of 0.32 mm/day. For the future, the evaporation increases over the eastern Mediterranean are higher than for the western Mediterranean, with the average values of 0.45 and 0.22 mm/day respectively. While theThe precipitation future decreases for the western Mediterranean are higher than that forof the eastern Mediterranean, with the average values of -0.21 and -0.16 mm/day. The change in precipitation minus evaporation (, i.e. P-E),, shows that the eastern Mediterranean becomes even drier than the western Mediterranean.

Results from the river model indicate that most of the rivers over the north Mediterranean region decrease their flow rate in the future. Further study for some key rivers which flow into the Mediterranean Sea shows that, some rivers become much drier in the future, such as the Ebro in Spain, and the Maritsa in Turkey, become much drier in the future. EspeciallyNotably, the discharge of the Jordan River to the Dead Sea decreases by a very high value of 85 percent as projected by the model.

It can be concluded from these two studies that a drier climate transit might be inevitable over the Mediterranean by the end of 21st century. Hence, a water crisis may become a big challenge in the future for the study area.


This study was supported by the EU-CIRCE and the GLOWA-JR projects. Partial support was given by the Israel Water Authority. The model simulation was performed under the framework of the KAKUSHIN program funded by
MEXT, Japan. Special thanks due to an anonymous reviewer for his/her valuable and constructive suggestions.

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6Figure captions

Table 1




Wet season

Dry season




5.7% /0.24




-10% /-0.24




-25.4% /-0.48

-25.4% /-0.57



-3.6% /-0.04

1.4% /0.01

-5.8% /-0.09


-10% /-0.14

-10% /-0.14

-9.2% /-0.12


-43.5% /-0.10



Mediterranean mean evaporation (E), precipitation (P) and precipitation minus evaporation (P-E) anomalies in future (2075-2099) relative to current (1979-2007) separated by the sea and land areas. In each column, relative (%, left) and absolute (mm/day, right) values are reported based on a 20km global climate model.

Figure 1:

Mediterranean water cycle changes by 2075-2099 compared to 1979-2007 for the ‘wet’ and ‘dry’ seasons based on MRI 20km GCM. Precipitation (a) and (b), evaporation (c) and (d), and precipitation minus evaporation (e) and (f). Unit: mm/day. The box broadly depicts the western and eastern Mediterranean region.

Figure 2:

Mediterranean water cycle in 1979-2007(solid) compared to 2075-2099 (dashed) based on the MRI 20km GCM. The seasonal cycles (three months running mean) of precipitation (P), evaporation (E) and precipitation minus evaporation (P-E) are shown (mm/day). The same CRU precipitation for 1979-2002 is added for comparison. (a) Sea-only (b) Land-only.

Figure 3:

Sea area water cycles for western Mediterranean (dashed) and eastern Mediterranean (solid) based on MRI 20km GCM. The seasonal cycles (three months running mean) of precipitation (P), evaporation (E) and precipitation minus evaporation (P-E), are shown (mm/day). (a) Current (1979-2007) (b) Future (2075-2099) minus current.

Figure 4:

Changes of runoff and river discharge by 1979-2003 compared to (2075-2099). (a) runoff (b) river discharge. Six rivers are marked as Ebro (Eb), Rhone (Rh), Po (Po), Maritsa (Ma), Jordan (Jo) and Nile (Ni). Unit: (m3/s).

Figure 5:

Changes of monthly mean river discharge of six rivers by (1979-2003) compare to (2075-2099). Except to the Jordan River, all rivers flow into the Mediterranean (m3/s). Bold lines () are for current climate, while dashed () for the future.

7. Short title for page headings

Global warming water cycle over Mediterranean


Global warming projected water cycle changes over the Mediterranean, East and West: a comparison study of a super-high resolution global model with cmip3 iconHas global warming stopped?

Global warming projected water cycle changes over the Mediterranean, East and West: a comparison study of a super-high resolution global model with cmip3 iconGlobal Warming and Conservation in an urban

Global warming projected water cycle changes over the Mediterranean, East and West: a comparison study of a super-high resolution global model with cmip3 iconRapid and Decisive Solution of the World Energy Crisis and Global Warming

Global warming projected water cycle changes over the Mediterranean, East and West: a comparison study of a super-high resolution global model with cmip3 icon20th Century Temperatures of Palestine: Variability, Trend and the Global Warming (1901-2000)

Global warming projected water cycle changes over the Mediterranean, East and West: a comparison study of a super-high resolution global model with cmip3 iconResolution Of The Problem Of Boat People: The Case For a global Initiative

Global warming projected water cycle changes over the Mediterranean, East and West: a comparison study of a super-high resolution global model with cmip3 iconIs the theory of evolution true? Or is it, like global warming, bedevilled by dogma and closed- mindedness, so that any dispassionate appraisal is virtually

Global warming projected water cycle changes over the Mediterranean, East and West: a comparison study of a super-high resolution global model with cmip3 iconMicroscale High Resolution Meteorological Model. Tests of Used Methods and the First Preliminary Results

Global warming projected water cycle changes over the Mediterranean, East and West: a comparison study of a super-high resolution global model with cmip3 iconTitle: Enhancing global sls-resolution with loop cutting and tabling mechanisms

Global warming projected water cycle changes over the Mediterranean, East and West: a comparison study of a super-high resolution global model with cmip3 iconInternational symposium on sustainable geotechnical engineering, soil improvement and geosynthetics for adaptation and mitigation of climate change due to global warming

Global warming projected water cycle changes over the Mediterranean, East and West: a comparison study of a super-high resolution global model with cmip3 iconContemporary Crustal Deformation in East Asia Constrained by Global Positioning System Measurements

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