Observed Changes in Daily Precipitation Intensity in the United States

Ryan D. Harp*, Daniel E. Horton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The characterization of changes over the full distribution of precipitation intensities remains an overlooked and underexplored subject, despite their critical importance to hazard assessments and water resource management. Here, we aggregate daily in situ Global Historical Climatology Network precipitation observations within 17 internally consistent domains in the United States for two time periods (1951–1980 and 1991–2020). We find statistically significant changes in wet day precipitation distributions in all domains—changes primarily driven by a shift from lower to higher wet day intensities. Patterns of robust change are geographically consistent, with increases in the mean (4.5%–5.7%) and standard deviation (4.4%–8.7%) of wet day intensity in the eastern U.S., but mixed signals in the western U.S. Beyond their critical importance to the aforementioned impact assessments, these observational results can also inform climate model performance evaluations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2022GL099955
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number19
StatePublished - Oct 16 2022


  • GHCN
  • NCA
  • NEON
  • daily precipitation
  • precipitation intensity distribution
  • precipitation variability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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