Precipitation, dynamical intermittency, and sporadic randomness

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While rainfall intermittency is a dynamical phenomenon, little progress has been made in the literature on the link between rainfall intermittency and atmospheric dynamics. We present the basic dynamical models of intermittency that are phenomenologically most similar to rainfall: Pomeau-Manneville Type-III and On-Off. We then illustrate each type with both a 1-D iterative map and a corresponding stochastic process stressing the appearance of these dynamics in high-dimensional (stochastic) systems as opposed to low-dimensional chaotic systems. We show that the pdf of rainfall intensities, the pdf of "laminar phases" (periods of zero rainfall intensity), and the spectrum of the rainfall series all have power-law behavior that is broadly consistent with intermittency in the classic types. Using a seasonal analysis, we find that summer convective rainfall at daily and sub-daily scales seems consistent with features of Type-III intermittency. The correspondence with Type-III intermittency and a preliminary entropic analysis further suggest that rainfall may be an example of sporadic randomness, blending deterministic and stochastic components.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)923-932
Number of pages10
JournalAdvances in Water Resources
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Water Science and Technology


  • Convective rainfall
  • Dynamics
  • Entropy
  • Rainfall
  • Stochastic


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