Changes in the variability and periodicity of precipitation in Scotland

Abstract

This paper analyses the temporal and spatial changes in the amount and variability of rainfall in Scotland. The sequential Mann–Kendall test reveals that total annual precipitation has increased across Scotland since the 1970s with increasing trends in variability beginning between the mid-1960s and the mid-1970s. Whilst temporally consistent increasing trends in precipitation totals prevail in the West, many weather stations in the East have experienced subsequent trend turning points in the following two decades, explaining the larger magnitude of the trends in western Scotland in recent decades. Trend analyses on six measures of rainfall variability indicate an increase in rainfall variability during the period 1961–2000, as measured by the intra-annual variance, the winter to summer precipitation ratio and the annual cumulative sum range, with decreasing trends observed in the number of dry days. Periodicities associated with the North Atlantic Oscillation and the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation could explain the observed temporal variability of rainfall.

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Acknowledgments

The authors are thankful to the British Atmospheric Data Centre (BADC) for providing the daily precipitation data, which were downloaded from URL: http://badc.nerc.ac.uk/mybadc. The authors also wish to thank Dr Ewan MacArthur for answering our statistical queries and Ms Irina Foss for her help with the wavelet analyses. In addition, the authors thank all scientists who have made their R packages available online. A.S. Gagnon acknowledges financial support from the Scottish Alliance for Geoscience, Environment and Society (SAGES).

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Correspondence to Alexandre S. Gagnon.

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Afzal, M., Gagnon, A.S. & Mansell, M.G. Changes in the variability and periodicity of precipitation in Scotland. Theor Appl Climatol 119, 135–159 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00704-014-1094-2

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Keywords

  • North Atlantic Oscillation
  • Rainfall Variability
  • North Atlantic Oscillation Index
  • Total Annual Precipitation
  • Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation