The rainfall regime in Lisbon in the last 150 years

Kutiel H., Trigo R.M.
Theoretical and Applied Climatology ,DOI:10.1007/s00704-013-1066-y

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The first decades of the rainfall series of Lisbon have been digitized recently allowing a long-term assessment of the rainfall regime for 150 years of uninterrupted, i.e., the first assessment for the longest continuous precipitation time series in western Iberia. This data has been monitored continuously at the D. Luís observatory having started to be published in 1864 in the Observatory's log books (Annals). We use an approach based on different characteristics of rain spells that has been proved to be satisfactory for the analysis of the different parameters related to the rainfall regime in that part of the world. Thus, a rain spell is defined as a series of consecutive days with a measured daily rainfall equal or higher than 1.0 mm. Each rain spell is preceded and followed by at least one dry day. For each rain spell, its duration, its yield (RSY), and its average intensity (RSI) was calculated. Additionally, the total number of rain spells in each year was also considered. Dryness was analyzed using the dry days since last rain approach. Besides the evaluation over the entire 150-year period available, we have also looked into three equally spaced sub-periods. Lisbon reveals large inter-annual and intra-annual variability and both have increased considerably in the last decades. The large intra-annual variability is demonstrated by both; a very large range of annual rainfall percentage accumulated at any given date and by a very large range of dates on which a certain rainfall percentage was accumulated. Again, both metrics increased in the last decades. Parallel to the increase in the uncertainty, a very significant net increase is noticed in the annual totals since the 1960s compared to the first half of the previous century. The increase is mainly due to more intense events which are reflected by higher RSY and RSI values in the last 50 years.