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Precipitation variability in Sao Paulo State, Brazil

Theoretical and Applied Climatology
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  • Agricultural Science
  • Design
  • Economics


The State of Sao Paulo is the richest in Brazil, responsible for over 30% of the Brazilian gross rate. It has a population of around 30 million and its economy is based on agriculture and industrial products. Any change in climate can have a profound influence on the socio-economics of the State. In order to determine changes in total and extreme rainfall over Sao Paulo State, climate change indices derived from daily precipitation data were calculated using specially designed software. Maps of trends for a subset of 59 rain gauge stations were analysed for the period 1950-1999 and also for a subset of this period, 1990-1999, representing more recent climate. A non-parametric Mann-Kendall test was applied to the time series. Maps of trends for six annual precipitation indices (annual total precipitation (PRCPTOT), very heavy precipitation days (R20mm), events greater than the 95th percentile (R95p), maximum five days precipitation total (RX5day), the length of the largest wet spell (CWD) and the length of the largest dry spell (CDD)) were analysed for the entire period. These exhibited statistically significant trends associated with a wetter climate. A significant increase in PRCPTOT, associated with very heavy precipitation days, were observed at more than 45% of the rain gauge stations. The Mann-Kendall test identified that the positive trend in PRCPTOT is possibly related to the increase in the R95p and R20mm indices. Therefore, the results suggest that there has been a change in precipitation intensity. In contrast, the indices for the more recent shorter time series are significantly different to the longer term indices. The results indicate that intense precipitation is becoming concentrated in a few days and spread over the period when the CDD and R20mm indices show positive trends, while negative ones are seen in the RX5day index. The trends found could be related to many anthropogenic aspects such as biomass burning aerosols and land use.

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