Scaling and responses of extreme hourly precipitation in three climate experiments with a convection-permitting model

Geert Lenderink, Hylke de Vries, Hayley J. Fowler, Renaud Barbero, Bert van Ulft, Erik van Meijgaard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
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It is widely recognized that future rainfall extremes will intensify. This expectation is tied to the Clausius-Clapeyron (CC) relation, stating that the maximum water vapour content in the atmosphere increases by 6-7% per degree warming. Scaling rates for the dependency of hourly precipitation extremes on near-surface (dew point) temperature derived from day-to-day variability have been found to exceed this relation (super-CC). However, both the applicability of this approach in a long-term climate change context, and the physical realism of super-CC rates have been questioned. Here, we analyse three different climate change experiments with a convection-permitting model over Western Europe: simple uniform-warming, 11-year pseudo-global warming and 11-year global climate model driven. The uniform-warming experiment results in consistent increases to the intensity of hourly rainfall extremes of approximately 11% per degree for moderate to high extremes. The other two, more realistic, experiments show smaller increases-usually at or below the CC rate-for moderate extremes, mostly resulting from significant decreases to rainfall occurrence. However, changes to the most extreme events are broadly consistent with 1.5-2 times the CC rate (10-14% per degree), as predicted from the present-day scaling rate for the highest percentiles. This result has important implications for climate adaptation. This article is part of a discussion meeting issue 'Intensification of short-duration rainfall extremes and implications for flash flood risks'.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20190544
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalPhilosophical transactions. Series A, Mathematical, physical, and engineering sciences
Issue number2195
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • climate change
  • hourly precipitation extremes
  • precipitation scaling

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