Articles | Volume 11, issue 5
Research article
09 May 2011
Research article |  | 09 May 2011

Precipitation concentration changes in Spain 1946–2005

M. de Luis, J. C. González-Hidalgo, M. Brunetti, and L. A. Longares

Abstract. An analysis was made of the Precipitation Concentration Index using the new MOPREDAS database of monthly precipitation in Spain (Monthly Precipitation Data base of Spain). The database was compiled after exhaustive quality control of the complete digitalized Spanish Meterological Agency (AEMet) archives and contains a total set of 2670 complete and homogeneous monthly precipitation series from 1946 to 2005. Thus, MOPREDAS currently holds the densest information available for the 1946–2005 period for Spain and ensures a high resolution of results. The Precipitation Concentration Index (PCI) is a powerful indicator of the temporal distribution of precipitation, traditionally applied at annual scales; as the value increases, the more concentrated the precipitation. Furthermore PCI is a part of the well-known Fournier index, with a long tradition on natural system analyses, as for example soil erosion. In this paper, the mean values of annual, seasonal and wet and dry periods of PCI in the conterminous Spain and for two normal periods (1946–1975 and 1976–2005) were studied.

Precipitation in Spain follows a general NW-SE spatial pattern during the wet (months) period due to the Atlantic storm track, while during the dry (months) period, it follows a predominantly N-S spatial pattern. As a result, the annual values of PCI combine the two patterns and show a SW-NE PCI gradient.

The analyses of the two sub-periods show significant changes in the precipitation occurred in conterminous Spain from 1946 to 2005, and precipitation concentration increased across most of the IP. At an annual scale, PCI increases mostly due to an increase in precipitation concentration during the wet season. At a seasonal scale significant changes were detected between 1945–1975 and 1976–2005, particularly in autumn (increase of PCI values), while changes in winter, spring and summer were mostly localized and not generalized (both increase and decrease). Changes in PCI seem to be complex and appear to be related to global atmospheric features and synoptic and local factors affecting precipitation trends. We discuss the possible explanation linked to the atmospheric pattern and monthly trends and their implications.