Science China Earth Sciences

, Volume 60, Issue 12, pp 2190–2203 | Cite as

Daily extreme precipitation and trends over China

  • Jun SunEmail author
  • FuQing ZhangEmail author
Research Paper


Based on daily precipitation data of more than 2000 Chinese stations and more than 50 yr, we constructed time series of extreme precipitation based on six different indices for each station: annual and summer maximum (top-1) precipitation, accumulated amount of 10 precipitation maxima (annual, summer; top-10), and total annual and summer precipitation. Furthermore, we constructed the time series of the total number of stations based on the total number of stations with top-1 and top-10 annual extreme precipitation for the whole data period, the whole country, and six subregions, respectively. Analysis of these time series indicate three regions with distinct trends of extreme precipitation: (1) a positive trend region in Southeast China, (2) a positive trend region in Northwest China, and (3) a negative trend region in North China. Increasing (decreasing) ratios of 10–30% or even >30% were observed in these three regions. The national total number of stations with top-1 and top-10 precipitation extremes increased respectively by 2.4 and 15 stations per decade on average but with great inter-annual variations. There have been three periods with highly frequent precipitation extremes since 1960: (1) early 1960s, (2) middle and late 1990s, and (3) early 21st century. There are significant regional differences in trends of regional total number of stations with top-1 and top-10 precipitation. The most significant increase was observed over Northwest China. During the same period, there are significant changes in the atmospheric variables that favor the decrease of extreme precipitation over North China: an increase in the geopotential height over North China and its upstream regions, a decrease in the low-level meridional wind from South China coast to North China, and the corresponding low moisture content in North China. The extreme precipitation values with a 50-year empirical return period are 400–600 mm at the South China coastal regions and gradually decrease to less than 50 mm in Northwest China. The mean increase rate in comparison with 20-year empirical return levels is 6.8%. The historical maximum precipitation is more than twice the 50-year return levels.


Extreme precipitation (EP) Extreme precipitation event (EPE) Time series Total annual number of stations Extreme event return level 


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This research was completed during a one-year visit of the first author at Pennsylvania State University as a research scholar. We thank the members of the Fuqing Zhang’s Research Group for helpful comments. We thank two anonymous reviewers for comments, which helped to improve the manuscript. We acknowledge the National Information Center (NIC) of the China Meteorological Administration for providing high-quality data. We acknowledge Yang Shunan for the translation of parts of the manuscript. This research was supported by the China Special Fund for Meteorological Research in the Public Interest (Grant No. GYHY201306011), the Research on Key Prediction Technology of Warm Sector Rainstorm (Grant No. YBGJXM (2017)1A-01) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 41475041).


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Copyright information

© Science China Press and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Meteorological CenterChina Meteorological AdministrationBeijingChina
  2. 2.Department of Meteorology and Atmospheric Sciences, and Center for Advanced Data Assimilation and Predictability TechniquesPennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA

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