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Heavier summer downpours with climate change revealed by weather forecast resolution model

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Hayley Fowler, Dr Steven ChanORCiD



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by Nature Publishing Group, 2014.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


The intensification of precipitation extremes with climate change(1) is of key importance to society as a result of the large impact through flooding. Observations show that heavy rainfall is increasing on daily timescales in many regions(2), but how changes will manifest themselves on sub-daily timescales remains highly uncertain. Here we perform the first climate change experiments with a very high resolution (1.5 km grid spacing) model more typically used for weather forecasting, in this instance for a region of the UK. The model simulates realistic hourly rainfall characteristics, including extremes(3,4), unlike coarser resolution climate models(5,6), giving us confidence in its ability to project future changes at this timescale. We find the 1.5 km model shows increases in hourly rainfall intensities in winter, consistent with projections from a coarser 12 km resolution model and previous studies at the daily timescale(7). However, the 1.5 km model also shows a future intensification of short-duration rain in summer, with significantly more events exceeding the high thresholds indicative of serious flash flooding. We conclude that accurate representation of the local storm dynamics is an essential requirement for predicting changes to convective extremes; when included we find for the model here that summer downpours intensify with warming.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Kendon EJ, Roberts NM, Fowler HJ, Roberts MJ, Chan SC, Senior CA

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Nature Climate Change

Year: 2014

Volume: 4

Issue: 7

Pages: 570-576

Print publication date: 01/07/2014

Online publication date: 01/06/2014

Acceptance date: 06/05/2014

Date deposited: 19/08/2016

ISSN (print): 1758-678X

ISSN (electronic): 1758-6798

Publisher: Nature Publishing Group


DOI: 10.1038/NCLIMATE2258


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Funder referenceFunder name
Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC)
GA01101Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) Met Office Hadley Centre Climate Programme
NE/1006680/1UK Met Office and Natural Environment Research Council (UKMO-NERC)