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Atmospheric precursors for intense summer rainfall over the United Kingdom

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



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by John Wiley and Sons Ltd, 2020.

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


© 2019 Royal Meteorological Society. Intense sub-daily summer rainfall is linked to flooding impacts in the United Kingdom. Characterizing the atmospheric conditions prior to the rainfall event can improve understanding of the large-scale mechanisms involved. The most intense sub-daily rainfall intensity data generated from rain gauge records across the United Kingdom over the period 1979–2014 are combined with fields from the ERA Interim reanalysis to characterize atmospheric conditions prior to heavy rainfall events. The 200 most intense 3-hourly events for six UK regions are associated with negative anomalies in sea level pressure (<−2 hPa) and 200 hPa geopotential height (<−60 m) to the west or south west of the United Kingdom 1 day earlier, with above average moisture, evaporation and dew point temperature over North West Europe. Atmospheric precursors are more intense but less coherent between regions for composites formed of the 25 heaviest rainfall events but all display substantial moisture transport from the south or south east prior to their occurrence. Composites for the heaviest events are characterized by a tripole geopotential anomaly pattern across the North Atlantic. Above average geopotential height and dew point temperature over Newfoundland and below average geopotential height but elevated evaporation in the North Atlantic are found to be weakly associated with an increased chance of the most intense sub-daily rainfall events 5–9 days later.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Allan RP, Blenkinsop S, Fowler HJ, Champion AJ

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: International Journal of Climatology

Year: 2020

Volume: 40

Issue: 8

Pages: 3849-3867

Print publication date: 30/06/2020

Online publication date: 02/12/2019

Acceptance date: 26/11/2019

Date deposited: 07/02/2020

ISSN (print): 0899-8418

ISSN (electronic): 1097-0088

Publisher: John Wiley and Sons Ltd


DOI: 10.1002/joc.6431


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Funder referenceFunder name
WM140025Royal Society