Precipitation Changes and Variance in the Great Lakes Region

Authors: Jillian Stephens*, , John Frye*, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater
Topics: Climatology and Meteorology, Water Resources and Hydrology, Physical Geography
Keywords: Precipitation, Climate Change, Great Lakes
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Lincoln 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: Download


This study seeks to analyze how precipitation patterns and precipitation variance in the Great Lakes Region have changed over time. This was accomplished by examining both long-term precipitation totals and the timing and variation of extreme precipitation events. Precipitation data was retrieved from the Global Historical Climatology Network database and only stations that had 95% of daily precipitation values present over a 60-year period of record were utilized. Sixty years was the chosen timeframe in order to determine if there is a statistically significant difference between the data from the historic reference period (1951-1980) and the current reference period (1987-2017). Statistical analysis was utilized to calculate the average total precipitation amounts for each period and to determine if there has been a statistically significant difference between the periods. In addition, the number of extreme precipitation events in each period was analyzed to see if there’s been a significant increase in the number of these days in the current period. Extreme precipitation events are defined as 12 mm, 25 mm, and 50 mm of precipitation in a day. It’s expected that there has been an increase in extreme precipitation events in the current period. If this is true, it could indicate that recent warming is responsible for the increase in extreme precipitation events. Increases in these events could make the region more susceptible to flooding as well as extended periods between rainfall. This could have several implications for the region, including diminished crop yields, excessive runoff, and widespread erosion.

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