Changing frequency of heavy rainfall over the central United States

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Records of daily rainfall accumulations from 447 rain gauge stations over the central United States (Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi) are used to assess past changes in the frequency of heavy rainfall. Each station has a record of at least 50 yr, and the data cover most of the twentieth century and the first decade of the twenty-first century. Analyses are performed using a peaks-over-threshold approach, and, for each station, the 95th percentile is used as the threshold. Because of the count nature of the data and to account for both abrupt and slowly varying changes in the heavy rainfall distribution, a segmented regression is used to detect changepoints at unknown points in time. The presence of trends is assessed by means of a Poisson regression model to examine whether the rate of occurrence parameter is a linear function of time (by means of a logarithmic link function). The results point to increasing trends in heavy rainfall over the northern part of the study domain. Examination of the surface temperature record suggests that these increasing trends occur over the area with the largest increasing trends in temperature and, consequently, with an increase in atmospheric water vapor.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)351-357
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Climate
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


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