The annual cycle of heavy precipitation across the United Kingdom: a model based on extreme value statistics

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Abstract

The annual cycle of extreme 1-day precipitation events across the UK is investigated by developing a statistical model and fitting it to data from 689 rain gauges. A generalized extreme-value distribution (GEV) is fit to the time series of monthly maxima, across all months of the year simultaneously, by approximating the annual cycles of the location and scale parameters by harmonic functions, while keeping the shape parameter constant throughout the year. We average the shape parameter of neighbouring rain gauges to decrease parameter uncertainties, and also interpolate values of all model parameters to give complete coverage of the UK. The model reveals distinct spatial patterns for the estimated parameters. The annual mean of the location and scale parameter is highly correlated with orography. The annual cycle of the location parameter is strong in the northwest UK (peaking in late autumn or winter) and in East Anglia (where it peaks in late summer), and low in the Midlands. The annual cycle of the scale parameter exhibits a similar pattern with strongest amplitudes in East Anglia. The spatial patterns of the annual cycle phase suggest that they are linked to the dominance of frontal precipitation for generating extreme precipitation in the west and convective precipitation in the southeast of the UK. The shape parameter shows a gradient from positive values in the east to negative values in some areas of the west. We also estimate 10-year and 100-year return levels at each rain gauge, and interpolated across the UK. Copyright © 2008 Royal Meteorological Society

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