Middle East Clouds

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Clouds tell a similar story to precipitation in the Middle East. The figure at the right shows the mean annual cloud amount for the period 1984-1990 as determined by the International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project (ISCCP, Rossow and Schiffer, 1991).

On average, about 62% of the Earth is cloud covered. The zonal average cloud amount (middle figure) shows that there is a cloud maximum in the tropics associated with the ITCZ, and there are substantial mid-latitude maxima, which rain far less frequently than do tropical clouds. In fact, the mid-latitude oceans are quite cloudy, in excess of 80% cloudy in many locations.

Along the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn (bottom figure) the cloud amount decreases from the eastern to the western sides of continents just as does precipitation. The oceans, however, are quite cloudy. In fact the only places where the cloud amount is substantially below the global average are over land. Along the equator, however, the least cloudy places are over the ocean.

The Middle East, being on the western side of a supercontinent in the heart of the subtropics is among the most cloud-free places on Earth.

Now, what about water vapor? Click Next Page.

Annual Cloud Amount

Mean annual cloud amount (fraction of the sky covered with clouds in percent) constructed from the ISCCP total cloud data set .

Compare with precipitation | Close-up of the Middle East | A note on data quality


Zonal Cloud Amount

Zonally averaged total cloud amount (%) from the ISCCP data set.

Compare with precipitation


Tropics Cloud Amount

Annual cloud amount along the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. The global mean annual cloud amount (62%) is shown as a dashed line.

Compare with precipitation

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