Contribution of tropical cyclones to rainfall at the global scale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

159 Scopus citations


This study quantifies the relative contribution of tropical cyclones (TCs) to annual, seasonal, and extreme rainfall and examines the connection between El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and the occurrence of extreme TC-induced rainfall across the globe. The authors use historical 6-h best-track TC datasets and daily precipitation data from 18 607 global rain gauges with at least 25 complete years of data between 1970 and 2014. The highest TC-induced rainfall totals occur in East Asia ( > 400 mm yr-1) and northeastern Australia ( > 200 mm yr-1), followed by the southeastern United States and along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico (100-150 mm yr-1). Fractionally, TCs account for 35%-50% of the mean annual rainfall in northwestern Australia, southeastern China, the northern Philippines, and Baja California, Mexico. Seasonally, between 40% and 50% of TC-induced rain is recorded along the western coast of Australia and in islands of the south Indian Ocean in the austral summer and in East Asia and Mexico in boreal summer and fall. In terms of extremes, using annual maximum and peak-over-threshold approaches, the highest proportions of TC-induced rainfall are found in East Asia, followed by Australia and North and Central America, with fractional contributions generally decreasing farther inland from the coast. The relationship between TC-induced extreme rainfall and ENSO reveals that TC-induced extreme rainfall tends to occur more frequently in Australia and along the U.S. East Coast during La Niña and in East Asia and the northwestern Pacific islands during El Niño.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)359-372
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Climate
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


  • ENSO
  • Rainfall
  • Tropical cyclones


Dive into the research topics of 'Contribution of tropical cyclones to rainfall at the global scale'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this