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Publication Date
19 October 2018

The Uneven Nature of Daily Precipitation and Its Change



A few days with heavy rain contribute disproportionately to total precipitation, while many days with light drizzle contributes much less. What is not appreciated is just how asymmetric this distribution is in time, and the even more asymmetric nature of trends due to climate change. We diagnose the temporal asymmetry in models and observations. Half of the annual precipitation falls in the wettest 12 days each year in the median across observing stations worldwide. Climate models project changes in precipitation that are more uneven than present-day precipitation. In a scenario with high greenhouse-gas emissions, one-fifth of the projected increase in rain fall in the wettest 2 days of the year and 70% in the wettest 2 weeks. Adjusting modeled unevenness to match present-day unevenness at stations, half of precipitation increase occurs in the wettest 6 days each year.

“The Uneven Nature Of Daily Precipitation And Its Change”. 2018. Geophysical Research Letters 45: 11,980-11,988. doi:10.1029/2018gl080298.
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