Biological and Environmental Research - Earth and Environmental System Sciences
Earth and Environmental System Modeling

Analysis of Extreme Precipitation Patterns Associated with Tropical Cyclones in the Eastern United States

Thursday, December 12, 2019 - 13:40
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Extreme precipitation events can have devastating impacts on the environment affected, with single events such as tropical cyclones causing billions of dollars in damage. Due to our changing climate, extreme precipitation events are expected to be more frequent and intense in the coming decades. In order to prepare for and understand what the future holds, we must have a firm understanding of recent past extreme precipitation patterns and how they have changed. This study uses several observational data sets, including both satellite and gauge data, of varying resolutions to compare and analyze the precipitation associated with observed events over the past 20 years. Included in this project are data spanning from 2000 through 2018 for the eastern United States from the Global Precipitation Climate Project (GPCP), the Precipitation Estimation from Remotely Sensed Information using Artificial Neural Networks (PERSIANN-CDR) project, the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM), the Integrated Multi-satellitE Retrievals for GPM (IMERG) project, and the Rainfall Estimates on a Gridded Network (REGEN) project. GPCP tends to underestimate extreme precipitation totals compared to the gauge data set, as does PERSIANN. However, the higher resolution of the PERSIANN data allows more accuracy than GPCP relative to the in situ REGEN. The calculations of the annual daily average precipitation, the annual maximum, and extreme events using TRMM are typically higher in magnitude when compared to in situ measurements. The higher resolution IMERG data set, which includes input from the TRMM and GPM satellites, significantly improves the accuracy of the satellite estimates when compared to gauge data. Further analysis is necessary to attribute different extreme precipitation events to their appropriate causes, such as tropical cyclones, mesoscale convective systems, or frontal systems. This work is an essential preliminary step to studying the role of tropical cyclones and their extratropical transition on extreme precipitation in the eastern United States as well as the impact of a changing climate on these events in the next several decades.

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