Extreme convective precipitation events in a changing climate

K.U. Lochbihler

Research output: ThesisDissertation (TU Delft)

134 Downloads (Pure)


As I am writing this, parts of Central Europe are plagued by a series of intense rainfall events that, in less than two days, turn rivers into powerful streams, cause flooding, damage infrastructure and property, and harm people. The number of such extreme events, which are associated with high economic losses and casualties, has been increasing for decades. How is this happening? And, what is the relation between extreme convective precipitation events and increasing temperatures, such as which we are currently experiencing due to climate change?
To tackle these questions, consider the following simplified version of a convective rain event. We imagine a column of air, a part of the atmosphere with a cloud inside of it. Near the surface, air streams into the column where it starts rising vertically. While gaining height, the air cools, until at a certain level the contained water vapor will condensate in the formof small cloud droplets. From this level, the cloud base, the air mass continues ascending while the amount of condensed water keeps increasing, so that the cloud droplets grow in size. Finally, when they grow sufficiently large, precipitation will set in, and, in the most extreme case, all the cloud water will reach the ground as rain. Following this conceptual model, one way to increase the amount of precipitation is to increase the moisture content of the air that enters the cloud.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Delft University of Technology
  • Siebesma, A.P., Supervisor
  • Lenderink, G., Advisor
Award date8 Nov 2021
Print ISBNs978-94-6416-879-2
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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