On the use of indices to study extreme precipitation on sub-daily and daily timescales

Lisa V. Alexander, Hayley J. Fowler, Margot Bador, Ali Behrangi, Markus G. Donat, Robert Dunn, Chris Funk, James Goldie, Elizabeth Lewis, Marine Rogé, Sonia I. Seneviratne, V. Venugopal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

77 Scopus citations


While there are obstacles to the exchange of long-term high temporal resolution precipitation data, there have been fewer barriers to the exchange of so-called 'indices'. These are derived from daily and sub-daily data and measure aspects of precipitation frequency, duration and intensity that could be used for the study of extremes. This paper outlines the history of the rationale and use of these indices, the types of indices that are frequently used and the advantages and pitfalls in analysing them. Moving forward, satellite precipitation products are now showing the potential to provide global climate indices to supplement existing products using longer-term in situ gauge records but we suggest that to advance this area differences between data products, limitations in satellite-based estimation processes, and the inherent challenges of scale need to be better understood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number125008
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 6 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • General Environmental Science
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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