The impact of climate change on extreme precipitation in Sicily, Italy

Leonardo Noto, Angelo Forestieri, Angela Candela, Elisa Arnone, Stephen Blenkinsop, Hayley Fowler, Elisa Arnone, Angelo Forestieri

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36 Citations (Scopus)


Increasing precipitation extremes are one of the possible consequences of a warmer climate. These may exceed the capacity of urban drainage systems, and thus impact the urban environment. Because short-duration precipitation events are primarily responsible for flooding in urban systems, it is important to assess the response of extreme precipitation at hourly (or sub-hourly) scales to a warming climate. This study aims to evaluate the projected changes in extreme rainfall events across the region of Sicily (Italy) and, for two urban areas, to assess possible changes in Depth-Duration-Frequency (DDF) curves. We used Regional Climate Model outputs from Coordinated Regional Climate Downscaling Experiment for Europe area ensemble simulations at a ~12 km spatial resolution, for the current period and 2 future horizons under the Representative Concentration Pathways 8.5 scenario. Extreme events at the daily scale were first investigated by comparing the quantiles estimated from rain gauge observations and Regional Climate Model outputs. Second, we implemented a temporal downscaling approach to estimate rainfall for sub-daily durations from the modelled daily precipitation, and, lastly, we analysed future projections at daily and sub-daily scales. A frequency distribution was fitted to annual maxima time series for the sub-daily durations to derive the DDF curves for 2 future time horizons and the 2 urban areas. The overall results showed a raising of the growth curves for the future horizons, indicating an increase in the intensity of extreme precipitation, especially for the shortest durations. The DDF curves highlight a general increase of extreme quantiles for the 2 urban areas, thus underlining the risk of failure of the existing urban drainage systems under more severe events.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)332-348
Number of pages17
JournalHydrological Processes
Publication statusPublished - 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Water Science and Technology


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