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Global distribution of the intensity and frequency of hourly precipitation and their responses to ENSO

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Xiaofeng Li, Dr Stephen Blenkinsop, Dr Renaud Barbero, Dr Jingjing Yu, Dr Elizabeth Lewis, Dr Selma GuerreiroORCiD, Dr Steven ChanORCiD, Yafei Li, Dr Haider Ali, Dr Roberto Villalobos Herrera, Professor Hayley Fowler



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


© 2020, The Author(s).We investigate the global distribution of hourly precipitation and its connections with the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) using both satellite precipitation estimates and the global sub-daily rainfall gauge dataset. Despite limited moisture availability over continental surfaces, we find that the highest mean and extreme hourly precipitation intensity (HPI) values are mainly located over continents rather than over oceans, a feature that is not evident in daily or coarser resolution data. After decomposing the total precipitation into the product of the number of wet hours (NWH) and HPI, we find that ENSO modulates total precipitation mainly through the NWH, while its effects on HPI are more limited. The contrasting responses to ENSO in NWH and HPI is particularly apparent at the rising branches of the Pacific and Atlantic Walker Circulations, and is also notable over land-based gauges in Australia, Malaysia, the USA, Japan and Europe across the whole distribution of hourly precipitation (i.e. extreme, moderate and light precipitation). These results provide new insights into the global precipitation distribution and its response to ENSO forcing.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Li X-F, Blenkinsop S, Barbero R, Yu J, Lewis E, Lenderink G, Guerreiro S, Chan S, Li Y, Ali H, Villalobos Herrera R, Kendon E, Fowler HJ

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Climate Dynamics

Year: 2020

Volume: 54

Pages: 4823-4839

Print publication date: 01/06/2020

Online publication date: 30/04/2020

Acceptance date: 18/04/2020

Date deposited: 22/05/2020

ISSN (print): 0930-7575

ISSN (electronic): 1432-0894

Publisher: Springer


DOI: 10.1007/s00382-020-05258-7


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