Increasing frequencies and changing characteristics of heavy precipitation events threatening infrastructure in Europe under climate change
Abstract. The effect of climate change on potentially infrastructure-damaging heavy precipitation events in Europe is investigated in an ensemble of regional climate simulations conducted at a horizontal resolution of 12 km. Based on legislation and stakeholder interviews the 10-year return period is used as a threshold for the detection of relevant events.
A novel technique for the identification of heavy precipitation events is introduced. It records not only event frequency but also event size, duration and severity (a measure taking duration, size and rain amount into account) as these parameters determine the potential consequences of the event. Over most of Europe the frequency of relevant heavy precipitation events is predicted to increase with increasing greenhouse gas concentrations. The number of daily and multi-day events increases at a lower rate than the number of sub-daily events. The event size is predicted to increase in the future over many European regions, especially for sub-daily events. Moreover, the most severe events were detected in the projection period. The predicted changes in frequency, size and intensity of events may increase the risk for infrastructure damages. The climate change simulations do not show changes in event duration.