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Future changes to the intensity and frequency of short-duration extreme rainfall

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Hayley Fowler



This is the final published version of a review that has been published in its final definitive form by AMER GEOPHYSICAL UNION, 2014.

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


Evidence that extreme rainfall intensity is increasing at the global scale has strengthened considerably in recent years. Research now indicates that the greatest increases are likely to occur in short-duration storms lasting less than a day, potentially leading to an increase in the magnitude and frequency of flash floods. This review examines the evidence for subdaily extreme rainfall intensification due to anthropogenic climate change and describes our current physical understanding of the association between subdaily extreme rainfall intensity and atmospheric temperature. We also examine the nature, quality, and quantity of information needed to allow society to adapt successfully to predicted future changes, and discuss the roles of observational and modeling studies in helping us to better understand the physical processes that can influence subdaily extreme rainfall characteristics. We conclude by describing the types of research required to produce a more thorough understanding of the relationships between local-scale thermodynamic effects, large-scale atmospheric circulation, and subdaily extreme rainfall intensity.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Westra S, Fowler HJ, Evans JP, Alexander LV, Berg P, Johnson F, Kendon EJ, Lenderink G, Roberts NM

Publication type: Review

Publication status: Published

Journal: Reviews of Geophysics

Year: 2014

Volume: 52

Issue: 3

Pages: 522-555

Print publication date: 01/09/2014

Online publication date: 27/08/2014

Acceptance date: 19/07/2014

ISSN (print): 8755-1209

ISSN (electronic): 1944-9208



DOI: 10.1002/2014RG000464