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Towards advancing scientific knowledge of climate change impacts on short-duration rainfall extremes

Fowler, Hayley J., Ali, Haider, Allan, Richard P., Ban, Nikolina, Barbero, Renaud, Berg, Peter, Blekinsop, Stephen, Cabi, Nalan Senol, Chan, Steben, Dale, Murray, Dunn, Robert J. H., Ekstrom, Marie, Evans, Jason P., Fosser, Giorgia, Golding, Brian, Guerreiro, Selma B., Hegerl, Gabriele, Kahraman, Abdullah, Kendon, Elizabeth J., Lenderink, Geert, Lewis, Elizabeth, Li, Xiaofeng, O'Gorman, Paul A., Orr, Harriet G., Peat, Katy L., Prein, Andreas F., Pritchard, David, Schär, Christoph, Sharma, Ashish, Stott, Peter A., Villalobos-Herrera, Roberto, Villarini, Gabriele, Wasko, Conrad, Wehner, Michael F., Westra, Seth and Whitford, Anna 2021. Towards advancing scientific knowledge of climate change impacts on short-duration rainfall extremes. Philosophical Transactions A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences 379 , 20190542. 10.1098/rsta.2019.0542

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A large number of recent studies have aimed at understanding short-duration rainfall extremes, due to their impacts on flash floods, landslides and debris flows and potential for these to worsen with global warming. This has been led in a concerted international effort by the INTENSE Crosscutting Project of the GEWEX (Global Energy and Water Exchanges) Hydroclimatology Panel. Here, we summarise the main findings so far and suggest future directions for research, including: the benefits of convection-permitting climate modelling; towards understanding mechanisms of change; the usefulness of temperature-scaling relations; towards detecting and attributing extreme rainfall change; the need for international coordination and collaboration. Evidence suggests that the intensity of long-duration (1 day+) heavy precipitation increases with climate warming close to the Clausius-Clapeyron (CC) rate (6-7% K-1), although large-scale circulation changes affect this response regionally and rare events can scale at higher rates, while localised heavy short-duration (hourly and sub-hourly) intensities can respond more strongly (e.g., 2xCC instead of CC). Day-to-day scaling of short-duration intensities supports a higher scaling, with mechanisms proposed for this related to local-scale dynamics of convective storms, but its relevance to climate change is not clear. Uncertainty remains in the influence of many factors, such as large-scale circulation, convective storm dynamics, and stratification, on changes to precipitation extremes. Despite this, recent research has increased confidence in both the detectability and understanding of changes in various aspects of intense short-duration rainfall. To make further progress, the international coordination of datasets, model experiments and evaluations will be required, with consistent and standardised comparison methods and metrics, and recommendations are made for these frameworks.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Earth and Environmental Sciences
Publisher: Royal Society, The
ISSN: 1364-503X
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 15 January 2021
Date of Acceptance: 14 January 2021
Last Modified: 07 Aug 2022 21:58

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