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Peaks-over-Threshold Study of Trends in Extreme Rainfall over the Iberian Peninsula

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  • 1 Departamento de Física, Universidad de Extremadura, Badajoz, Spain
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Abstract

A peaks-over-threshold (POT) approach is used to study trends in extreme rainfall over the Iberian Peninsula (IP) at a daily scale. Records from 52 observatories regularly distributed over Iberia with no missing data were available for the common period from 1958 to 2004. The POT approach was used because it is particularly effective at extracting information concerning true extreme events. A generalized Pareto distribution fit was made to the data involving time-dependent parameters to account for possible temporal changes in the frequency distribution. These parameters were analyzed for trends in the return-level period, of importance for engineering purposes. A time-varying threshold was defined and an automatic declustering scheme was used to select independent extreme events exceeding the threshold. The results indicate a high variability of extreme events over the coastline of the IP, greater over the Mediterranean coast than over the Atlantic coast. The calculation of the trends for the 2-yr return level yielded a large proportion of negative trends for all three seasons considered: 58% for winter, 63% for spring, and 69% for autumn. The parametric approach also revealed an increase in the area with a positive trend of the 20-yr return level relative to the 2-yr return period, especially in autumn in the east of the IP.

Corresponding author address: F. J. Acero, Departamento de Física, Universidad de Extremadura, 06071 Badajoz, Spain. Email: fjacero@unex.es

Abstract

A peaks-over-threshold (POT) approach is used to study trends in extreme rainfall over the Iberian Peninsula (IP) at a daily scale. Records from 52 observatories regularly distributed over Iberia with no missing data were available for the common period from 1958 to 2004. The POT approach was used because it is particularly effective at extracting information concerning true extreme events. A generalized Pareto distribution fit was made to the data involving time-dependent parameters to account for possible temporal changes in the frequency distribution. These parameters were analyzed for trends in the return-level period, of importance for engineering purposes. A time-varying threshold was defined and an automatic declustering scheme was used to select independent extreme events exceeding the threshold. The results indicate a high variability of extreme events over the coastline of the IP, greater over the Mediterranean coast than over the Atlantic coast. The calculation of the trends for the 2-yr return level yielded a large proportion of negative trends for all three seasons considered: 58% for winter, 63% for spring, and 69% for autumn. The parametric approach also revealed an increase in the area with a positive trend of the 20-yr return level relative to the 2-yr return period, especially in autumn in the east of the IP.

Corresponding author address: F. J. Acero, Departamento de Física, Universidad de Extremadura, 06071 Badajoz, Spain. Email: fjacero@unex.es

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