Research ArticleCLIMATE CHANGE

Rapid decadal convective precipitation increase over Eurasia during the last three decades of the 20th century

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Science Advances  25 Jan 2017:
Vol. 3, no. 1, e1600944
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1600944

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Abstract

Convective precipitation—localized, short-lived, intense, and sometimes violent—is at the root of challenges associated with observation, simulation, and prediction of precipitation. The understanding of long-term changes in convective precipitation characteristics and their role in precipitation extremes and intensity over extratropical regions are imperative to future water resource management; however, they have been studied very little. We show that annual convective precipitation total has been increasing astonishingly fast, at a rate of 18.4%/°C, of which 16% is attributable to an increase in convective precipitation occurrence, and 2.4% is attributable to increased daily intensity based on the 35 years of two (combined) historical data sets of 3-hourly synoptic observations and daily precipitation. We also reveal that annual daily precipitation extreme has been increasing at a rate of about 7.4%/°C in convective events only. Concurrently, the overall increase in mean daily precipitation intensity is mostly due to increased convective precipitation, possibly at the expanse of nonconvective precipitation. As a result, transitional seasons are becoming more summer-like as convective becomes the dominant precipitation type that has accompanied higher daily extremes and intensity since the late 1980s. The data also demonstrate that increasing convective precipitation and daily extremes appear to be directly linearly associated with higher atmospheric water vapor accompanying a warming climate over northern Eurasia.

Keywords
  • Precipitation
  • convective
  • extremes
  • intensity
  • atmospheric water vapor
  • Northern Eurasia
  • climate change
  • high latitudes
  • warming
  • Hydroclimatology

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

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