An extreme precipitation categorization scheme, used to temporally and spatially visualize and track the multiscale variability of extreme precipitation climatology, is applied over the continental United States. The scheme groups 3-day precipitation totals exceeding 100 mm into one of five precipitation categories, or “P-Cats.” To demonstrate the categorization scheme and assess its observational uncertainty across a range of precipitation measurement approaches, we compare the climatology of P-Cats defined using in situ station data from the Global Historical Climatology Network-Daily (GHCN-D); satellite-derived data from the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) Multisatellite Precipitation Analysis (TMPA); gridded station data from the Parameter-Elevation Regression on Independent Slopes Model (PRISM); global reanalysis from the Modern-Era Retrospective Analysis for Research and Applications, version 2; and regional reanalysis from the North American Regional Reanalysis. While all datasets capture the principal spatial patterns of P-Cat climatology, results show considerable variability across the suite in frequency, spatial extent, and magnitude. Higher-resolution datasets, PRISM and TMPA, most closely resemble GHCN-D and capture a greater frequency of high-end P-Cats relative to the lower-resolution products. When all datasets are rescaled to a common coarser grid, differences persist with datasets originally constructed at a high resolution maintaining a higher frequency and magnitude of P-Cats. Results imply that dataset choice matters when applying the P-Cat scheme to track extreme precipitation over space and time. Potential future applications of the P-Cat scheme include providing a target for climate model evaluation and a basis for characterizing future change in extreme precipitation as projected by climate model simulations.
Supplemental information related to this paper is available at the Journals Online website: https://doi.org/10.1175/JHM-D-18-0148.s1.
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