Why Is It So Dry In The Middle East?

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A scientific question is always best approached by looking at data. There are several data sets of importance, but we start with a new precipitation data set produced by the Global Precipitation Climatology Project (GPCP, Huffman et al., 1996). The data that we examine were formed by combining rain gauge data with satellite rainfall estimates. [Why this is important.] The image at the right shows the mean annual precipitation for the seven-year period 1988 through 1994. The obvious answer to why the Middle East is so dry is that it is right next to the Sahara Desert, one of the driest places on Earth. But, why is the Sahara so dry? Click Next Page to find out.

Annual Precipitation
Mean annual precipitation (mm) constructed from the GPCP combined satellite/rain gauge data. Note that the scale is logarithmic; that is, to get from one color band to the next, multiply (or divide) by 2.1544 (the cube root of 10). (Close-up of the Middle East)

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