Daily extreme precipitation and trends over China

Jun Sun, Fu Qing Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Based on daily precipitation data of more than 2000 Chinese stations and more than 50 yr, we constructed time series of extreme precipitation based on six different indices for each station: annual and summer maximum (top-1) precipitation, accumulated amount of 10 precipitation maxima (annual, summer; top-10), and total annual and summer precipitation. Furthermore, we constructed the time series of the total number of stations based on the total number of stations with top-1 and top-10 annual extreme precipitation for the whole data period, the whole country, and six subregions, respectively. Analysis of these time series indicate three regions with distinct trends of extreme precipitation: (1) a positive trend region in Southeast China, (2) a positive trend region in Northwest China, and (3) a negative trend region in North China. Increasing (decreasing) ratios of 10–30% or even >30% were observed in these three regions. The national total number of stations with top-1 and top-10 precipitation extremes increased respectively by 2.4 and 15 stations per decade on average but with great inter-annual variations. There have been three periods with highly frequent precipitation extremes since 1960: (1) early 1960s, (2) middle and late 1990s, and (3) early 21st century. There are significant regional differences in trends of regional total number of stations with top-1 and top-10 precipitation. The most significant increase was observed over Northwest China. During the same period, there are significant changes in the atmospheric variables that favor the decrease of extreme precipitation over North China: an increase in the geopotential height over North China and its upstream regions, a decrease in the low-level meridional wind from South China coast to North China, and the corresponding low moisture content in North China. The extreme precipitation values with a 50-year empirical return period are 400–600 mm at the South China coastal regions and gradually decrease to less than 50 mm in Northwest China. The mean increase rate in comparison with 20-year empirical return levels is 6.8%. The historical maximum precipitation is more than twice the 50-year return levels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2190-2203
Number of pages14
JournalScience China Earth Sciences
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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