Intra-event intermittency of rainfall: An analysis of the metrics of rain and no-rain periods

David Dunkerley

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49 Citations (Scopus)


The metric or ‘observable’ properties of intra-event rainfall intermittency (IERI) are quantified using a 10-year record from arid Fowlers Gap, Australia. Rainfall events were delineated using the minimum inter-event time (MIT) criterion, using eight values in the range of 1 h – 24 h. Within events, no-rain periods were defined as corresponding to rainfall rates R < 0.1 mm/h or R < 0.2 mm/h (both less than typical wet-canopy evaporation rates during rainfall). In this way, rainfall events were subdivided into rain and no-rain periods. Intermittency was characterised using two measures: the fraction of rainless time within an event, and the duration of the longest rainless period. Events identified using a minimum inter-event time (MIT) of 24 h included on average 9.4 h of contiguous no-rain time (47.5% of the mean event duration), and only 6.8 h of contiguous rain. Total IERI averaged 51.1% for these events. Events defined with MIT = 6 h (a value commonly adopted in the literature) exhibited a mean of 1.53 h of no-rain and 9.04 h of contiguous rain. Total IERI averaged 13.9% for these events for R < 0.1 mm/h, but reached 39.2% if no-rain periods were taken as those of <0.2 mm/h. The maximum contiguous no-rain period for events defined using MIT = 6 h was 10.9 h from an event of 12.6 h duration, and this represents 86.5% of the event duration. Results demonstrate that smaller, shorter, and less intense rainfall events tend to exhibit higher IERI than larger, longer, and more intense events. IERI is relevant to the understanding of land surface processes. Information on the metric properties of IERI in different rainfall types (convective and stratiform) and rainfall climates (arid, maritime, and wet tropical) may prove to have significance for diverse studies in land surface hydrology.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3294-3305
Number of pages12
JournalHydrological Processes
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Fowlers Gap
  • internal intermittency
  • rainfall event
  • rainfall intermittency

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