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

How does convective self-aggregation affect precipitation extremes?

Nicolas Da Silva1, Sara Shamekh2, Caroline Muller2, and Benjamin Fildier2
Nicolas Da Silva et al.
  • 1Centre for Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences, School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich, United Kingdom
  • 2Laboratoire de Météorologie Dynamique (LMD)/Institut Pierre Simon Laplace (IPSL), École Normale Supérieure, Paris Sciences & Lettres (PSL) Research University, Sorbonne Université, École Polytechnique, CNRS, Paris, France

Convective organisation has been associated with extreme precipitation in the tropics. Here we investigate the impact of convective self-aggregation on extreme rainfall rates. We find that convective self-aggregation significantly increases precipitation extremes, for 3-hourly accumulations but also for instantaneous rates (+ 30 %). We show that this latter enhanced instantaneous precipitation is mainly due to the local increase in relative humidity which drives larger accretion efficiency and lower re-evaporation and thus a higher precipitation efficiency.

An in-depth analysis based on an adapted scaling of precipitation extremes, reveals that the dynamic contribution decreases (- 25 %) while the thermodynamic is slightly enhanced (+ 5 %) with convective aggregation, leading to lower condensation rates (- 20 %). When the atmosphere is more organized into a moist convecting region, and a dry convection-free region, deep convective updrafts are surrounded by a warmer environment which reduces convective instability and thus the dynamic contribution. The moister boundary-layer explains the positive thermodynamic contribution. The microphysic contribution is increased by + 50 % with aggregation. The latter is partly due to reduced evaporation of rain falling through a moister near-cloud environment (+ 30 %), but also to the associated larger accretion efficiency (+ 20 %).

Thus, the change of convective organization regimes in a warming climate could lead to a much more different evolution of tropical precipitation extremes than expected from thermodynamical considerations. Improved fundamental understanding of convective organization and its sensitivity to warming, as well as its impact on precipitation extremes, is hence crucial to achieve accurate rainfall projections in a warming climate.

How to cite: Da Silva, N., Shamekh, S., Muller, C., and Fildier, B.: How does convective self-aggregation affect precipitation extremes?, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-5216,, 2021.