The Dependence of Daily and Hourly Precipitation Extremes on Temperature and Atmospheric Humidity over China

Hong Wang Key Laboratory of Water Cycle and Related Land Surface Processes, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China

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Fubao Sun Key Laboratory of Water Cycle and Related Land Surface Processes, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, and Research School of Qilian Mountain Ecology, Hexi University, Zhangye City, and College of Resources and Environment, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Center for Water Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China

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Wenbin Liu Key Laboratory of Water Cycle and Related Land Surface Processes, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China

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Abstract

Precipitation extremes are expected to increase by 7% per degree of warming according to the Clausius–Clapeyron (CC) relation. However, this scaling behavior is inappropriate for high temperatures and short-duration precipitation extremes. Here, daily data from 702 stations during 1951–2014 and hourly data from 8 stations during 2000–15 are used to examine and explain this behavior in China. Both daily and hourly precipitation extremes exhibit an increase in temperature dependency at lower temperatures. The CC scaling transitions from positive to negative rates with temperatures greater than 25°C. Unlike the increase in daily data, which is similar to single-CC (1CC) scaling, the increase in hourly data resembles super-CC (2CC) scaling for temperatures greater than 13°C. Results show that the precipitation extremes are controlled by water vapor for a given temperature. At lower temperatures, precipitation extremes exhibit a positive linear dependence on daily actual vapor pressure whose value is almost equal to the saturated vapor pressure at a given temperature. At higher temperatures, actual vapor pressure has difficulty maintaining a consistent increasing rate because of the exponential increasing of the saturated vapor pressure. Higher temperatures result in larger vapor pressure deficits, which lead to sharp decreases in precipitation extremes. Similar scaling behaviors are obtained in 10 river basins over China, where the breaking point temperature increases from 17°C along the northwest inland area to 25°C along the southeast coast. These behaviors demonstrate that precipitation extremes are firmly linked to temperature when there is sufficient moisture at lower temperatures and limited by insufficient moisture at higher temperatures. Overall, precipitation extreme events require more attention in a warming climate.

Supplemental information related to this paper is available at the Journals Online website: https://doi.org/10.1175/JCLI-D-18-0050.s1.

© 2018 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Fubao Sun, sunfb@igsnrr.ac.cn

Abstract

Precipitation extremes are expected to increase by 7% per degree of warming according to the Clausius–Clapeyron (CC) relation. However, this scaling behavior is inappropriate for high temperatures and short-duration precipitation extremes. Here, daily data from 702 stations during 1951–2014 and hourly data from 8 stations during 2000–15 are used to examine and explain this behavior in China. Both daily and hourly precipitation extremes exhibit an increase in temperature dependency at lower temperatures. The CC scaling transitions from positive to negative rates with temperatures greater than 25°C. Unlike the increase in daily data, which is similar to single-CC (1CC) scaling, the increase in hourly data resembles super-CC (2CC) scaling for temperatures greater than 13°C. Results show that the precipitation extremes are controlled by water vapor for a given temperature. At lower temperatures, precipitation extremes exhibit a positive linear dependence on daily actual vapor pressure whose value is almost equal to the saturated vapor pressure at a given temperature. At higher temperatures, actual vapor pressure has difficulty maintaining a consistent increasing rate because of the exponential increasing of the saturated vapor pressure. Higher temperatures result in larger vapor pressure deficits, which lead to sharp decreases in precipitation extremes. Similar scaling behaviors are obtained in 10 river basins over China, where the breaking point temperature increases from 17°C along the northwest inland area to 25°C along the southeast coast. These behaviors demonstrate that precipitation extremes are firmly linked to temperature when there is sufficient moisture at lower temperatures and limited by insufficient moisture at higher temperatures. Overall, precipitation extreme events require more attention in a warming climate.

Supplemental information related to this paper is available at the Journals Online website: https://doi.org/10.1175/JCLI-D-18-0050.s1.

© 2018 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Fubao Sun, sunfb@igsnrr.ac.cn

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