Changes to Sub-daily Rainfall Patterns in a Future Climate.

Westra, S., J.P. Evans, R. Mehrotra and A. Sharma
AGU Fall meeting, 3-7 December 2012, San Francisco, USA.


An algorithm is developed for disaggregating daily rainfall into sub-daily rainfall ‘fragments’ (continuous high temporal-resolution rainfall sequences whose total depth sums to the daily rainfall amount) under a future, warmer climate. The basis of the algorithm is to re-sample sub-daily fragments from the historical record conditional on the total daily rainfall amount and a range of temperature-based atmospheric predictors. The logic is that as the atmosphere warms, future rainfall patterns will be more reflective of historical rainfall patterns which occurred on warmer days at the same location, or at locations which have an atmospheric temperature profile more representative of expected future atmospheric conditions.
It was found that the daily to sub-daily scaling relationship varied significantly by season and by location, with rainfall patterns on warmer seasons or at warmer locations typically exhibiting higher rainfall intensity occurring over shorter periods within a day, compared with cooler seasons and locations. Importantly, by regressing against temperature-based atmospheric covariates, this effect was substantially reduced, suggesting that the approach also may be valid when extrapolating to a future climate. An adjusted method of fragments algorithm was then applied to nine stations around Australia, with the results showing that when holding total daily rainfall constant, the maximum intensity of short duration rainfall increased by a median of about 5% per degree for the maximum 6 minute burst, and 3.5% for the maximum one hour burst, whereas the fraction of the day with no rainfall increased by a median of 1.5%. This highlights that a large proportion of the change to the distribution of rainfall is likely to occur at sub-daily timescales, with significant implications for many hydrological systems.

UNSW    This page is maintaind by Jason Evans | Last updated 31st January 2013