New estimates of future changes in extreme rainfall across the UK using regional climate model integrations. 1. Assessment of control climate

H. J. Fowler, M. Ekström, C. G. Kilsby, P. D. Jones

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Widespread major flood events in both the UK and Europe over the last decade have focussed attention on perceived increases in rainfall intensities. The changing magnitude of such events may have significant impacts upon many sectors, particularly those associated with flooding, water resources and the insurance industry. Here, two methods are used to assess the performance of the HadRM3H model in the simulation of UK extreme rainfall: regional frequency analysis and individual grid box analysis. Both methods use L-moments to derive extreme value distributions of rainfall for 1-, 2-, 5- and 10-day events for both observed data from 204 sites across the UK (1961-1990) and gridded ~50 km by 50 km data from the control climate integration of HadRM3H. Despite differences in spatial resolution between the observed and modelled data, HadRM3H provides a good representation of extreme rainfall at return periods of up to 50 years in most parts of the UK. Although the east-west rainfall gradient tends to be exaggerated, leading to some overestimation of extremes in high elevation western areas and an underestimation in eastern 'rain shadowed' regions, this suggests that the regional climate model will also have skill in predicting how rainfall extremes might change under enhanced greenhouse conditions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)212-233
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Issue number1-4
Publication statusPublished - 2005

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