Variability and trends in England and Wales precipitation
To link to this article DOI: 10.1002/joc.4521
The England and Wales precipitation (EWP) dataset is a homogeneous time series of daily accumulations from 1931 to 2014, composed from rain gauge observations spanning the region. The daily regional-average precipitation statistics are shown to be well described by a Weibull distribution, which is used to define extremes in terms of percentiles. Computed trends in annual and seasonal precipitation are sensitive to the period chosen, due to large variability on interannual and decadal timescales. Atmospheric circulation patterns associated with seasonal precipitation variability are identified. These patterns project onto known leading modes of variability, all of which involve displacements of the jet stream and storm-track over the eastern Atlantic. The intensity of daily precipitation for each calendar season is investigated by partitioning all observations into eight intensity categories contributing equally to the total precipitation in the dataset. Contrary to previous results based on shorter periods, no significant trends of the most intense categories are found between 1931 and 2014. The regional-average precipitation is found to share statistical properties common to the majority of individual stations across England and Wales used in previous studies. Statistics of the EWP data are examined for multi-day accumulations up to 10 days, which are more relevant for river flooding. Four recent years (2000, 2007, 2008 and 2012) have a greater number of extreme events in the 3-and 5-day accumulations than any previous year in the record. It is the duration of precipitation events in these years that is remarkable, rather than the magnitude of the daily accumulations.