How Often Does It Really Rain?

Trenberth, Kevin E. ; Zhang, Yongxin

Année de publication
The perception about whether a place is a nice place to live often depends on how often it rains (or snows). The frequency relates to how dreary the weather appears, and it is the duration much more than the amount that clouds perceptions. Yet, information about the frequency of rainfall, or precipitation in general, is spotty at best. Here, we analyze a new near-global (60°N-60°S) dataset at hourly time scales and 0.25° resolution. The dataset, the newly calibrated Climate Prediction Center morphing technique (CMORPH), enables comparison of results with 3-hourly and daily data, which is what has previously been available, and seasonal aspects are also examined. The results are quite sensitive to both the spatial scales of the data and their temporal resolutions, and it is important to get down to hourly values to gain a proper appreciation of the true frequency. At 1° resolution, values are 35% higher than for 0.25°. At 3-hourly resolution, they are about 25% higher than hourly, and at daily resolution, they are about 150% higher than hourly on average. Overall, near-global (60°N-60°S) precipitation occurs 11.0% ± 1.1% (1 sigma) of the time or, alternatively, 89.0% of the time it is not precipitating. But outside of the intertropical and South Pacific convergence zones, where values exceed 30%, and the arid and desert regions, where values are below 4%, the rates are more like 10% or so, and over land where most people live, values are closer to about 8%.

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