Detecting trends in tropical rainfall characteristics, 1979–2003

Authors

  • K.-M. Lau,

    Corresponding author
    1. Laboratory for Atmospheres NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt, MD 20771, USA
    • Laboratory for Atmospheres, Code 613, Building 33, Rm C121, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD 20771, USA.
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  • H.-T. Wu

    1. Laboratory for Atmospheres NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt, MD 20771, USA
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    • Science and Systems Application Inc., Lanham, Maryland


Abstract

Analyses of two state-of-the-art, blended space-based and ground-based global rainfall data sets from the Global Precipitation Climatology Project (GPCP) and the Climate Prediction Center Merged Analysis Product (CMAP) reveal that there was a significant shift in the probability distribution functions of tropical rainfall during the period 1979–2003. This shift features a positive trend in the occurrence of heavy (top 10% by rain amount) and light (bottom 5%) rain events in the tropics during 1979–2003 and a negative trend in moderate (25–75%) rain events. These trends are consistent in both data sets and are in overall agreement with the Climate Research Unit's (CRU) gauge-only rainfall data over land. The relationships among the trends and the possible long-term changes in rainfall characteristics are discussed. Copyright © 2006 Royal Meteorological Society

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