Extreme winter warming can affect many aspects of environmental and human related activities. It can be disastrous, especially in arid regions. However, no specific research has been carried out on detecting winter warming in Iran. To address this research gap, this study was performed to investigate winter warming in the arid and semi-arid areas located in northeastern Iran. For this purpose, anomalies of minimum and maximum daily temperature, average daily temperature, mean daily temperature range and mean daily precipitation were studied on monthly, seasonal, annual and decadal scales. Along with this, the trend in the data was analyzed using the Mann–Kendall (MK) test. The results showed that since the 1990s there has been a significant increase in temperature positive anomalies at most stations. In addition, the precipitation anomaly mutations occurred later than temperature. In most cases the increase in winter anomalies was higher than the average annual anomalies. As an example, the maximum winter temperature anomaly increased from 0.38 °C in the 1990s to 2.07 °C in the 2000s at Mashhad station. Due to the simultaneous increase in anomalies at most stations, the detected winter warming is more likely to be the result of global warming rather than local synoptic climate.
This is the 1st study solely on detecting winter warming on a local scale in Iran.
The present study confirmed that winter warming has occurred since the 1990s.
The warming time in every decade occurred earlier than previous decade.
The precipitation anomaly mutation occurred later than temperature's.
The quantification of winter warming in this paper can provide valuable information for water management in arid areas.