Multiscale spatial and temporal statistical properties of rainfall in central Arizona

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24 Scopus citations


The statistical properties of the rainfall regime in central Arizona are investigated using observations from the early 1980s of the Flood Control District of Maricopa County (FCDMC) network, currently consisting of 310 gauges ranging in elevation from 220 to 2325 m MSL. A set of techniques is applied to analyze the properties across a wide range of temporal scales (from 1 min to years) and the associated spatial variability. Rainfall accumulation is characterized by (i) high interannual variability, which is partially explained by teleconnections with El Niño-Southern Oscillation; (ii) marked seasonality, with two distinct maxima in summer (July-September) and winter (November-March); (iii) significant orographic control; and (iv) strong diurnal cycle in summer, peaking in early afternoon at higher elevations and at nighttime in lower desert areas. The annual maximum rainfall intensities occur in the summer months and increase with elevation, suggesting that higher terrain enhances the strength of thermal convective activity. The intergauge correlation of wintertime rainfall is high even at short aggregation times (<1 h) because of the widespread nature of the weather systems, while summer monsoonal thunderstorms are more localized in space and time. Spectral and scale invariance analyses show the presence of different scaling regimes in summer and winter, which are related to the typical meteorological phenomena of the corresponding time scales (frontal systems and isolated convective cells). Results of this work expand previous studies on the dominant meteorological features in the region and support the development of rainfall downscaling models from coarse products of climate, meteorological, or other statistical models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)227-245
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Hydrometeorology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2017


  • Desert meteorology
  • Monsoons
  • Orographic effects
  • Precipitation
  • Statistical techniques
  • Time series

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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