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A regional frequency analysis of United Kingdom extreme rainfall from 1961 to 2000

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Hayley Fowler, Professor Chris Kilsby



Multi-day rainfall events are an important cause of recent severe flooding in the UK and any change in the magnitude of such events may have severe impacts upon urban structures such as dams, urban drainage systems and flood defences and cause failures to occur. Regional pooling of 1-, 2-, 5- and 10-day annual maxima for 1961 to 2000 from 204 sites across the UK is used in a standard regional frequency analysis to produce GEV growth curves for long return-period rainfall events for each of nine defined climatological regions. Temporal changes in 1-, 2-, 5- and 10-day annual maxima are examined with L-moments using both a 10-year moving window and fixed decades from 1961-70, 1971-80, 1981-90 and 1991-2000. A bootstrap technique is then used to assess uncertainty in the fitted decadal growth curves and to identify significant trends in both distribution parameters and quantile estimates. There has been a two-part change in extreme rainfall event occurrence across the UK from 1961-2000. Little change is observed at 1- and 2-day duration, but significant decadal level changes are seen in 5- and 10-day events in many regions. In the south of the UK, growth curves have flattened and 5- and 10-day annual maxima have decreased during the 1990s. However, in the north, the 10-day growth curve has steepened and annual maxima have risen during the 1990s. This is particularly evident in Scotland. The 50-year event in Scotland during 1961-1990 has become an 8-, 11- and 25-year event in the Eastern, Southern and Northern Scotland pooling regions respectively during the 1990s. In northern England the average recurrence interval has also halved. This may have severe implications for design and planning practices in flood control.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Fowler HJ, Kilsby CG

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: International Journal of Climatology

Year: 2003

Volume: 23

Issue: 11

Pages: 1313-1334

Print publication date: 06/08/2003

Date deposited: 16/06/2010

ISSN (print): 0899-8418

ISSN (electronic): 1097-0088

Publisher: John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


DOI: 10.1002/joc.943


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