Extreme Rainfall in Taiwan: Seasonal Statistics and Trends

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  • 1 Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, SUNY Albany, Albany, New York
  • 2 Atmospheric Sciences Research Center, SUNY Albany, Albany, New York
  • 3 Research Center for Environmental Changes, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan
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Abstract

Taiwan regularly experiences precipitation extremes of hundreds of millimeters per day, especially between May and September. In this study, Taiwan’s extreme rainfall (ER) is analyzed over a 56-year time period in different seasons and geographic regions, using a recently released, high-resolution gridded rainfall dataset. ER is defined using a seasonally- and geographically-varying 99th percentile threshold to better resolve the characteristics of the most intense rainfall seen in different locations and times of year. The resulting monthly ER rates are largest in typhoon season and smallest in fall, winter, and spring. ER is spatially homogeneous in Mei-Yu and typhoon seasons and concentrated in northern Taiwan in during the rest of the year.

A trend analysis revealed a positive trend in island-mean ER for the winter, spring, and typhoon seasons. In winter and spring, these trends are most pronounced in the north. In Mei-Yu season, ER has increased most over the southwestern mountain slopes; and in typhoon season, ER has increased consistently over much of Taiwan. These changes often exceed 1% per year. In many areas, typhoon season accounts for the largest fraction of the observed annual ER trend. TCs produce most of the observed typhoon season ER and ER trend, with nearly half of the typhoon season ER trend being associated with increases in TC frequency and duration around central and northern Taiwan.

Certain regional changes in ER characteristics, particularly in areas with low sample size or complex seasonal contributions, merit further investigation in future work.

Corresponding author: Lexi Henny, ahenny@albany.edu

Abstract

Taiwan regularly experiences precipitation extremes of hundreds of millimeters per day, especially between May and September. In this study, Taiwan’s extreme rainfall (ER) is analyzed over a 56-year time period in different seasons and geographic regions, using a recently released, high-resolution gridded rainfall dataset. ER is defined using a seasonally- and geographically-varying 99th percentile threshold to better resolve the characteristics of the most intense rainfall seen in different locations and times of year. The resulting monthly ER rates are largest in typhoon season and smallest in fall, winter, and spring. ER is spatially homogeneous in Mei-Yu and typhoon seasons and concentrated in northern Taiwan in during the rest of the year.

A trend analysis revealed a positive trend in island-mean ER for the winter, spring, and typhoon seasons. In winter and spring, these trends are most pronounced in the north. In Mei-Yu season, ER has increased most over the southwestern mountain slopes; and in typhoon season, ER has increased consistently over much of Taiwan. These changes often exceed 1% per year. In many areas, typhoon season accounts for the largest fraction of the observed annual ER trend. TCs produce most of the observed typhoon season ER and ER trend, with nearly half of the typhoon season ER trend being associated with increases in TC frequency and duration around central and northern Taiwan.

Certain regional changes in ER characteristics, particularly in areas with low sample size or complex seasonal contributions, merit further investigation in future work.

Corresponding author: Lexi Henny, ahenny@albany.edu
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