Assessing Changes in Exceptional Rainfall in Portugal Using ERA5-Land Reanalysis Data (1981/1982–2022/2023)

SCORE project partners from IST-ID and ATU have published a paper in the Water journal. It is available in open access


This research examines the intricate changes in the number of occurrences and cumulative rainfall of exceptional events in Portugal spanning 42 hydrological years (from 1981/1982 to 2022/2023). The study has two primary objectives: assessing the hydrological spatial dynamics of a region susceptible to climate-induced variations in exceptional rainfall and evaluating the proficiency of a ERA5-Land reanalysis rainfall dataset in capturing exceptional rainfall. Confronting methodological and data-related challenges (e.g., incomplete record series), the investigation uses continuous daily ERA5-Land rainfall series. Validation against the Sistema Nacional de Informação de Recursos Hídricos (SNIRH) and the Portuguese Institute for Sea and Atmosphere (IPMA) ensures the reliability of ERA5-Land data. Empirical non-exceedance probability curves reveal a broad consensus between reanalysis data and observational records, establishing the dataset’s suitability for subsequent analysis. Spatial representations of occurrences, cumulative rainfall, and rainfall intensity of events above thresholds throughout the overall 42-year period and two subperiods (late: 1981/1982–2001/2002; and recent: 2002/2003–2022/2023) are presented, illustrating spatial and temporal variations. A noteworthy shift in the spatial distribution of intense events from south to north is observed, emphasising the dynamism of such hydrological processes. The study introduces a novel dimension with a severity heat map, combining some key findings from the occurrences and cumulative rainfall through subperiods. This study significantly contributes to the understanding of hydrological dynamics in Portugal, providing valuable insights for risk management and the development of sustainable strategies tailored to the evolving patterns of exceptional rainfall.


Title: Assessing Changes in Exceptional Rainfall in Portugal Using ERA5-Land Reanalysis Data (1981/1982–2022/2023)

Authors: Luis Angel Espinosa, Maria Manuela Portela, and Salem Gharbia.

Cite as: Espinosa, Luis Angel, Maria Manuela Portela, and Salem Gharbia. ‘Assessing Changes in Exceptional Rainfall in Portugal Using Era5-land Reanalysis Data (1981/1982–2022/2023)’, 20 February 2024.


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