Definition of a temporal distribution index for high temporal resolution precipitation data over Peninsular Spain and the Balearic Islands: the fractal dimension; and its synoptic implications

Oliver Meseguer-Ruiz, Timothy J. Osborn, Pablo Sarricolea, Philip Jones, Jorge Olcina Cantos, Roberto Serrano-Notivoli, Javier Martin‐Vide

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Precipitation on the Spanish mainland and in the Balearic archipelago exhibits a high degree of spatial and temporal variability, regardless of the temporal resolution of the data considered. The fractal dimension indicates the property of self-similarity, and in the case of this study, wherein it is applied to the temporal behaviour of rainfall at a fine (10-min) resolution from a total of 48 observatories, it provides insights into its more or less convective nature. The methodology of Jenkinson & Collison which automatically classifies synoptic situations at the surface, as well as an adaptation of this methodology at 500 hPa, was applied in order to gain insights into the synoptic implications of extreme values of the fractal dimension. The highest fractal dimension values in the study area were observed in places with precipitation that has a more random behaviour over time with generally high totals. Four different regions in which the atmospheric mechanisms giving rise to precipitation at the surface differ from the corresponding above-ground mechanisms have been identified in the study area based on the fractal dimension. In the north of the Iberian Peninsula, high fractal dimension values are linked to a lower frequency of anticyclonic situations, whereas the opposite occurs in the central region. In the Mediterranean, higher fractal dimension values are associated with a higher frequency of the anticyclonic type and a lower frequency of the advective type from the east. In the south, lower fractal dimension values indicate higher frequency with respect to the anticyclonic type from the east and lower frequency with respect to the cyclonic type.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)439-456
Number of pages18
JournalClimate Dynamics
Issue number1-2
Early online date8 Mar 2018
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jan 2019


  • Fractal dimension
  • Iberian Peninsula
  • Jenkinson & Collison
  • Precipitation
  • Weather types
  • Western Mediterranean

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