Observed changes in precipitation on the wettest days of the year in China, 1960-2000

Binhui Liu, Mark Henderson, Ming Xu, Yandong Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations

Abstract

Previous studies have suggested that extreme precipitation events accounted for a disproportionate share of the nearly 2% increase in precipitation in China over the period of 1960-2000. Michaels et al. challenged a similar finding in the USA, arguing that fixed-bin methods for analysing extreme events obscure underlying precipitation patterns, and proposing a method that focusses on trends of the 10 wettest days of the year. Applying this method to China, we find that trends of precipitation on the 10 wettest days are generally proportional to changes in annual total precipitation. Regionally, a disproportionate increase is observed in southwest China. While the greatest absolute increase in precipitation on the wettest 10 days is seen in east China, the trend as a percentage of the annual total is not statistically significant. In the other six climate regions, the annual total rainfall is increasing at a proportionally greater rate than the 10 wettest days. Seasonally, the changes in precipitation on the five wettest days show increasing trend both nationally and for most of the climate regions. The greatest absolute increase in precipitation on the wettest five days is seen in east China in both summer and winter half-years. Only in southwest China during the summer half-year do we see a significant, disproportional increase in the precipitation falling on the five wettest days. Nationally, there has been an increasing trend in the frequency of precipitation exceeding the long-term mean 97.5th percentile and 99th percentile values. Although the annual increasing precipitation on the 10 wettest days corresponds with a similar increase in water vapour pressure in China nationally, regional results suggest that change in humidity is not the only factor that influences the changes in heavy precipitation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)487-503
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Climatology
Volume31
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 30 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science

Keywords

  • China
  • Climate change
  • Extreme events
  • Fixed- bin method
  • Monsoon
  • Precipitation
  • Wettest days

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