Extreme rainfall events in the Northeastern USA become more frequent with rising temperatures, but their intensity distribution remains stable

Helga Kristin Olafsdottir, Holger Rootzén, David Bolin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations

Abstract

AbstractBoth intensities of individual extreme rainfall events and the frequency of such events are important for infrastructure planning. We develop a new statistical extreme value model, the PGEV model, which makes it possible to use high quality annual maximum series data instead of lesswell checked daily data to estimate trends in intensity and frequency separately. The method is applied to annual maxima data from the NOAA Atlas 14, Volume 10, dating from approximately 1900 to 2014, showing that in the majority of 333 rain gauge stations in the Northeastern USA the frequency of extreme rainfall events increases as mean temperature increases, but that there is little evidence of trends in the distribution of the intensities of individual extreme rainfall events. The median of the frequency trends corresponds to extreme rainfalls becoming 83% more frequent for each centigrade degree of temperature increase. Naturally, increasing trends in frequency also increase the yearly or 10-yearly risks of very extreme rainfall events. Three other large areas in the contiguous USA, the Midwest, the Southeast, and Texas, are also studied, and show similar but weaker trends than those in the Northeast.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-51
Number of pages51
JournalJournal of Climate
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 27 2021

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2021-09-01
Acknowledgements: This work is funded by the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation (KAW grant 20012.0067) and the Swedish Research Council (grant 2016-04187). Special thanks to Sandra Pavlovic, Ben Shaby, and Gregory Bopp for very useful discussions, and to Philippe Naveau for his suggestions. We also thank three anonymous reviewers for comments which lead to important improvements of the paper.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science

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