The spatial extent of rainfall events and its relation to precipitation scaling

Kai Lochbihler*, Geert Lenderink, A. Pier Siebesma

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

77 Citations (Scopus)
202 Downloads (Pure)


Observations show that subdaily precipitation extremes increase with dew point temperature at a rate exceeding the Clausius-Clapeyron (CC) relation. The understanding of this so-called super CC scaling is still incomplete, and observations of convective cell properties could provide important information. Here the size and intensity of rain cells are investigated by using a tracking of rainfall events in high-resolution radar data. Higher intensities are accompanied by larger rainfall areas. However, whereas small rain cells mainly follow CC scaling, larger cells display super CC behavior. Even more, for dew point exceeding 15°C, the rain cell size has to increase in order to sustain super CC scaling and a remarked increase in rain cell area is found. Our results imply that the source area of moisture, the cloud size, and the degree of mesoscale organization play key roles in the context of a warming climate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8629-8636
Number of pages8
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - 28 Aug 2017


  • extreme precipitation
  • rain cell tracking
  • super CC scaling


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