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Observed Changes in Daily Precipitation Intensity in the United States
  • Ryan D. Harp,
  • Daniel E Horton
Ryan D. Harp
Institute for Sustainability and Energy at Northwestern; Northwestern University, Institute for Sustainability and Energy at Northwestern; Northwestern University

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Daniel E Horton
Northwestern University, Northwestern University
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The characterization of changes over the full distribution of precipitation intensities remains an overlooked and underexplored subject, despite their critical importance to hazard assessments and water resource management. Here, we aggregate daily in situ Global Historical Climatology Network precipitation observations within seventeen internally consistent domains in the United States for two time periods (1951-1980 and 1991-2020). We find statistically significant changes in wet day precipitation distributions in all domains – changes primarily driven by a shift from lower to higher wet day intensities. Patterns of robust change are geographically consistent, with increases in the mean (4.5-5.7%) and standard deviation (4.4-8.7%) of wet day intensity in the eastern U.S., but mixed signals in the western U.S. Beyond their critical importance to the aforementioned impact assessments, these observational results can also inform climate model performance evaluations.
16 Oct 2022Published in Geophysical Research Letters volume 49 issue 19. https://doi.org/10.1029/2022GL099955