Current changes in tropical precipitation

Richard P. Allan, Brian J. Soden, Viju O. John, William Ingram, Peter Good

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

180 Scopus citations


Current changes in tropical precipitation from satellite data and climate models are assessed. Wet and dry regions of the tropics are defined as the highest 30% and lowest 70% of monthly precipitation values. Observed tropical ocean trends in the wet regime (1.8%/decade) and the dry regions (-2.6%/decade) according to the Global Precipitation Climatology Project (GPCP) over the period including Special Sensor Microwave Imager (SSM/I) data (1988-2008), where GPCP is believed to be more reliable, are of smaller magnitude than when including the entire time series (1979-2008) and closer to model simulations than previous comparisons. Analysing changes in extreme precipitation using daily data within the wet regions, an increase in the frequency of the heaviest 6% of events with warming for the SSM/I observations and model ensemble mean is identified. The SSM/I data indicate an increased frequency of the heaviest events with warming, several times larger than the expected Clausius-Clapeyron scaling and at the upper limit of the substantial range in responses in the model simulations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number025205
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2010


  • Climate change
  • Climate models
  • Global water cycle
  • Rainfall extremes
  • Satellite data
  • Trends

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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