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The characteristics of summer sub-hourly rainfall over the southern UK in a high-resolution convective permitting model

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



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Flash flooding is often caused by sub-hourly rainfall extremes. Here, we examine southern UK sub-hourly 10 min rainfall from Met Office state-of-the-art convective-permitting model simulations for the present and future climate. Observational studies have shown that the duration of rainfall can decrease with temperature in summer in some regions. The duration decrease coincides with an intensification of sub-hourly rainfall extremes. This suggests that rainfall duration and sub-hourly rainfall intensity may change in future under climate change with important implications for future changes in flash flooding risk. The simulations show clear intensification of sub-hourly rainfall, but we fail to detect any decrease in rainfall duration. In fact, model results suggest the opposite with a slight (probably insignificant) lengthening of both extreme and non-extreme rainfall events in the future. The lengthening is driven by rainfall intensification without clear changes in the shape of the event profile. Other metrics are also examined, including the relationship between intense 10 min rainfall and temperature, and return levels changes; all are consistent with results found for hourly rainfall. No evaluation of model performance at the sub-hourly timescale is possible, highlighting the need for high-quality sub-hourly observations. Such sub-hourly observations will advance our understanding of the future risks of flash flooding.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Chan SC, Kendon EJ, Roberts NM, Fowler HJ, Blenkinsop S

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Environmental Research Letters

Year: 2016

Volume: 11

Issue: 9

Online publication date: 20/09/2016

Acceptance date: 05/09/2016

Date deposited: 30/11/2016

ISSN (electronic): 1748-9326

Publisher: Institute of Physics Publishing Ltd.


DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/11/9/094024


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Funder referenceFunder name
Wolfson Foundation
ERC-2013-CoGEuropean Research Council
GA01101Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs
GA01101Joint Department of Energy and Climate Change
NE/I006680/1United Kingdom NERC Changing Water Cycle programme
WM140025Royal Society as a Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award