Current changes in tropical precipitation

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

158 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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