A 1973–2008 Archive of Climate Surfaces for NW Maghreb

Journal publication

Climate archives are time series. They are used to assess temporal trends of a climate-dependent target variable, and to make climate atlases.

A high-resolution gridded dataset with 1728 layers of monthly mean maximum, mean and mean minimum temperatures and precipitation for the NW Maghreb (28°N–37.3°N, 12°W–12°E, ~1-km resolution) from 1973 through 2008 is presented. The surfaces were spatially interpolated by ANUSPLIN, a thin-plate smoothing spline technique approved by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), from georeferenced climate records drawn from the Global Surface Summary of the Day (GSOD) and the Global Historical Climatology Network-Monthly (GHCN-Monthly version 3) products.

Absolute errors for surface temperatures are approximately 0.5 °C for mean and mean minimum temperatures, and peak up to 1.76 °C for mean maximum temperatures in summer months. For precipitation, the mean absolute error ranged from 1.2 to 2.5 mm, but very low summer precipitation caused relative errors of up to 40% in July.

The archive successfully captures climate variations associated with large to medium geographic gradients. This includes the main aridity gradient which increases in the S and SE, as well as its breaking points, marked by the Atlas mountain range. It also conveys topographic effects linked to kilometric relief mesoforms.