Theoretical and Applied Climatology

, Volume 119, Issue 1–2, pp 55–75 | Cite as

Trends and correlations in annual extreme precipitation indices for mainland Portugal, 1941–2007

  • M. Isabel P. de Lima
  • Fátima Espírito Santo
  • Alexandre M. Ramos
  • Ricardo M. Trigo
Original Paper


Precipitation extremes in mainland Portugal (south-western Europe) using daily precipitation data recorded in the period 1941–2007 (67 years) at 57 meteorological stations scattered across the area are studied at an annual scale. Trends in selected precipitation annual indices that are calculated from these data are investigated, in particular trends in the intensity, frequency and duration of extreme precipitation events. Special attention is dedicated to local and regional variability. The spatial correlations between the annual trends in mean precipitation and in the extremes are analysed. Moreover, the relationships between the variability of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) index and several indices related to the frequency and intensity of the precipitation at the 57 stations were also investigated. Results show that several stations have predominantly negative tendencies in the precipitation indices, although the majority of stations did not show statistically significant change over time in the 1941–2007 period. At the regional level, the decreasing trend in the simple daily precipitation intensity index is the only one statistically significant at the 5 % level and appears to be related to the predominance of the positive phase of the NAO. For the period 1976–2007, the proportion of the total precipitation attributed to heavy and very heavy precipitation events increased and, consequently, daily precipitation events show a tendency to become more intense. Moreover, correlation analysis show that the most extreme events could be changing at a faster absolute rate in relation to the mean than more moderate events.


Extreme Precipitation North Atlantic Oscillation North Atlantic Oscillation Index Precipitation Index Extreme Precipitation Event 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors wish to thank Álvaro Silva and Sofia Cunha (The Portuguese Sea and Atmosphere Institute, I. P.), for their help in processing the maps in Figs. 1, 4, 6, 7 (top) and 10. Alexandre M. Ramos was supported by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT) through grant FCT/DFRH/SFRH/BPD/84328/2012.


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© Springer-Verlag Wien 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Isabel P. de Lima
    • 1
    • 2
  • Fátima Espírito Santo
    • 3
  • Alexandre M. Ramos
    • 4
  • Ricardo M. Trigo
    • 4
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Civil EngineeringUniversity of CoimbraCoimbraPortugal
  2. 2.Institute of Marine Research, Marine and Environmental Research Centre, Department of Civil EngineeringUniversity of CoimbraCoimbraPortugal
  3. 3.The Portuguese Sea and Atmosphere Institute—IPMA, I. P.LisbonPortugal
  4. 4.Instituto Dom LuizUniversidade de LisboaLisbonPortugal
  5. 5.Departamento de EngenhariasUniversidade LusófonaLisbonPortugal

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