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Global Climate Change Digest

A Guide to Information on Greenhouse Gases and Ozone Depletion
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TREND ANALYSIS: Precipitation Trends

Item #d98mar36

"Secular Trends of Precipitation Amount, Frequency and Intensity in the United States," T.R. Karl (NOAA/NESDIS/NCDC, 151 Patton Ave., Asheville NC 28801; e-mail:, R.W. Knight,Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 79(2), 231-241, Feb. 1998.

Since 1910, precipitation has increased by about 10% across the contiguous U.S., primarily through heavy and extreme daily precipitation events. The frequency of days with precipitation has increased for all categories of precipitation amount, and intensity of events has also increased. Overall, the proportion of total precipitation derived from extreme and heavy events is increasing relative to more moderate events.

Item #d98mar37

"Surface Observed Global Land Precipitation Variations During 1900-88," A. Dai (NCAR, POB 3000, Boulder CO 80307; e-mail:, I.Y. Fung, A.D. Del Genio,J. Clim., 10(11), 2934-2962, Nov. 1997.

The authors assembled an improved gridded data set of monthly precipitation for the period 1900-1988. Statistical analysis reveals a linear increasing trend of about 24 mm per decade in global precipitation. The spatial pattern of the trend and rate of increase are generally consistent with those in GCM projections of increased CO2.

Item #d98mar38

"A Principal Component and Long-Term Trend Analysis of Daily Precipitation in Switzerland," M. Widmann (Dept. Atmos. Sci., Box 354235, Univ. Washington, Seattle WA 98195; e-mail:,Intl. J. Climatol., 17(2), 1333-1356, Oct. 1997.

Study of precipitation records over the period 1901-1990 reveals an increase in winter precipitation by up to 30% per century in the western and northern parts of Switzerland. Statistical analysis shows that the trend results from a tendency for most rain-producing weather types to produce more rain, not from a change in the frequency of weather types.

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