Influence of microphysics on the scaling of precipitation extremes with temperature

Martin S. Singh, Paul A. O'Gorman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

75 Citations (Scopus)


Simulations of radiative-convective equilibrium with a cloud-system resolving model are used to investigate the scaling of high percentiles of the precipitation distribution (precipitation extremes) over a wide range of surface temperatures. At surface temperatures above roughly 295 K, precipitation extremes increase with warming in proportion to the increase in surface moisture, following what is termed Clausius-Clapeyron (CC) scaling. At lower temperatures, the rate of increase of precipitation extremes depends on the choice of cloud and precipitation microphysics scheme and the accumulation period, and it differs markedly from CC scaling in some cases. Precipitation extremes are found to be sensitive to the fall speeds of hydrometeors, and this partly explains the different scaling results obtained with different microphysics schemes. The results suggest that microphysics play an important role in determining the response of convective precipitation extremes to warming, particularly when ice- and mixed-phase processes are important.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6037-6044
Number of pages8
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Cloud-system resolving model
  • Convection
  • Microphysics
  • Precipitation extremes
  • Radiative-convective equilibrium

Cite this