Recent changes in daily precipitation and surface air temperature extremes in mainland Portugal, in the period 1941-2007

de Lima Isabel, F.E. Santo, Ramos A.M., Joćo L.M.P. de Lima
Atmospheric Research. doi: 10.1016/j.atmosres.2012.10.001

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Changes in the climatology of precipitation and surface air temperature are being investigated worldwide, searching for changes in variability, the mean and extreme events (maximum and minimum). By exploring recent adjustments in the climate of mainland Portugal, particularly in the intensity, frequency and duration of extreme events, this study investigates trends in selected specific indices that are calculated from daily precipitation data from 57 and surface air temperature data from 23 measuring stations scattered across the territory. Special attention is paid to regional differences and variations in seasonality. The data cover the periods 1941-2007 for precipitation, and 1941-2006 for temperature. They are explored at the annual and seasonal scales and for different sub-periods.
Results show that trends in annual precipitation indices are generally weak and, overall, not statistically significant at the 5% level. Nevertheless, a decreasing trend is revealed by regional indices of total wet-day precipitation and extreme precipitation (above the 99th percentile). Seasonal precipitation exhibits significant decreasing trends in spring precipitation, while extreme heavy precipitation events, in terms of both magnitude and frequency, have become more pronounced in autumn. Results for winter and summer suggest that the extremes have not suffered any significant aggravation.
Trends for air temperature are statistically more significant and marked than for precipitation and indicate general warming across the territory. This warming trend is revealed very consistently by the time series of individual stations and regional mean temperature, and is also consistent with the findings reported in other studies for Portugal and at the European scale.