EGU General Assembly 2021
© Author(s) 2021. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Identifying changing precipitation extremes in Sub-Saharan Africa with gauge and satellite products

Laura Harrison, Chris Funk, and Pete Peterson
Laura Harrison et al.
  • University of California Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, United States of America (

Sparse gauge networks in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) limit our ability to identify changing precipitation extremes with in situ observations. Given the potential for satellite and satellite-gauge precipitation products to help, we investigate how daily gridded gauge and satellite products compare for seven core climate change precipitation indices. According to a new gauge-only product, the Rainfall Estimates on a Gridded Network (REGEN), there were notable changes in SSA precipitation characteristics between 1950 and 2013 in well-gauged areas. We examine these trends and how these vary for wet, intermediate, and dry areas. For a 31 year period of overlap, we compare REGEN data, other gridded products and three satellite products. Then for 1998–2013, we compare a set of 12 satellite products. Finally, we compare spatial patterns of 1983–2013 trends across all of SSA. Robust 1950–2013 trends indicate that in well-gauged areas extreme events became wetter, particularly in wet areas. Annual totals decreased due to fewer rain days. Between 1983 and 2013 there were positive trends in average precipitation intensity and annual maximum 1 d totals. These trends only represent 15% of SSA, however, and only one tenth of the main wet areas. Unfortunately, gauge and satellite products do not provide consensus for wet area trends. A promising result for identifying regional changes is that numerous satellite products do well at interannual variations in precipitation totals and number of rain days, even as well as some gauge-only products. Products are less accurate for dry spell length and average intensity and least accurate for annual maximum 1 d totals. Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission Multi-satellite Precipitation Analysis (3B42-V7) and Climate Hazards center Infrared Precipitation with Stations (CHIRPS v2.0) ranked highest for multiple indices. Several products have seemingly unrealistic trends outside of the well-gauged areas that may be due to influence of non-stationary systematic biases.

Harrison, L., Funk, C., & Peterson, P. (2019). Identifying changing precipitation extremes in Sub-Saharan Africa with gauge and satellite products. Environmental Research Letters, 14(8), 085007.

How to cite: Harrison, L., Funk, C., and Peterson, P.: Identifying changing precipitation extremes in Sub-Saharan Africa with gauge and satellite products, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-1438,, 2021.

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