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On the role of serial correlation and field significance in detecting changes in extreme precipitation frequency
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  • Stefano Farris,
  • Roberto Deidda,
  • Francesco Viola,
  • Giuseppe Mascaro
Stefano Farris
Universitá di Cagliari
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Roberto Deidda
Universita degli Studi di Cagliari
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Francesco Viola
University of Cagliari
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Giuseppe Mascaro
Arizona State University

Corresponding Author:gmascaro@asu.edu

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Statistical trend analyses of observed precipitation (P) time series are key to validate theoretical arguments and climate projections suggesting that extreme P will increase in a warmer climate. Recent work warned about possible misinterpretation of trend tests if the presence of serial correlation and field significance are not considered. Here, we investigate these two aspects focusing on extreme P frequencies derived from 100-year daily records of 1087 worldwide gauges of the Global Historical Climate Network. For this aim, we perform Monte Carlo experiments based on count time series generated with the Poisson integer autoregressive model and characterized by different sample size, level of autocorrelation, and trend magnitude. The main results are as follows. (1) Empirical autocorrelations are consistent with those of uncorrelated and stationary or nonstationary count time series, while empirical trends cannot be explained as the exclusive effect of autocorrelation; incorporating the impact of serial correlation in trend tests on extreme P frequency has then limited impacts on tests’ performance. (2) Accounting for field significance improves interpretation of test results by limiting type-I errors, but it also decreases test power; results of local tests could complement field significance outcomes and help identify weak trend signals where several trends of coherent sign are detected. (3) Based on these findings, evident patterns of statistically significant increasing (decreasing) trends emerge in central and eastern North America, northern Eurasia, and central Australia (southwestern America, southern Europe, and southern Australia). The methodological insights of this work support trend analyses of any hydroclimatic variable
Nov 2021Published in Water Resources Research volume 57 issue 11. 10.1029/2021WR030172