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Sensitivity of extreme precipitation in Texas to climatic cycles

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Abstract

The vast areal extent of Texas, USA, observes acute variations in extreme precipitation, which result in devastating floods in various regions. Hydrometeorological literature suggests that these precipitation extremes are driven by the changes in global-scale climatic cycles. This study analyzed potential statistical links between Atlantic- and Pacific Ocean-based climatic cycles and annual precipitation extremes in Köppen–Geiger climate regions of Texas. Sensitivity analysis was done for annual precipitation extremes and differing phases of the most correlated climatic cycles. The study also analyzed the spatial variation of climatic indices and determined the projected increments in annual precipitation extremes as per the highest historically recorded increments or decrements in the most correlated climatic cycles in consecutive months. Weather stations with lower elevation and higher average precipitation are likely to observe higher extreme precipitation events in the warmer AMO state. Sensitivity analysis showed that a 20% decrement in empirical probabilities of projected precipitation extreme events corresponded to a decline of 35% in the same for humid subtropical climate region. The humid subtropical climate region is highly prone to devastating floods after heavy precipitation events. Results of the study will help prepare regional water boards for extreme precipitation events with reliable long-term forecasts of climatic cycles.

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Acknowledgments

We would like to thank the Department of Water Management and Hydrological Science and the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering at the Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, for providing us with the necessary facilities to carry out this research work.

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Correspondence to Kyungtae Lee.

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Bhatia, N., Singh, V.P. & Lee, K. Sensitivity of extreme precipitation in Texas to climatic cycles. Theor Appl Climatol (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00704-020-03125-3

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