This paper presents a method for regional frequency analysis and spatio-temporal pattern characterization of rainfall-extreme regimes (i.e. extremes, durations and timings) in the Pearl River Basin (PRB) using the well-known L-moments approach together with advanced statistical tests including stationarity test and serial correlation check, which are crucial to the valid use of L-moments for frequency analysis. Results indicate that: (1) the entire Pearl River Basin (40 sites) can be categorized into six regions by cluster analysis together with consideration of the topography and spatial patterns of mean precipitation in the basin. The results of goodness-of-fit measures indicate that the GNO, GLO, GEV, and PE3 distributions fit well for most of the basin for different HOM regions, but their performances are slightly different in term of curve fitting; (2) the estimated quantiles and their biases approximated by Monte Carlo simulation demonstrate that the results are reliable enough for the return periods of less than 100 years; (3) excessive precipitation magnitude records are observed at Guilin region of Guangxi Province and Fogang region of Guangdong Province, which have sufficient climate conditions (e.g. precipitation and humidity) responsible for the frequently occurred flood disasters in the regions. In addition, the spatial variations of precipitation in different return periods (Return period = 1, 10, 50 years to 100 years) increase from the upstream to downstream at the regional scale; (4) the seasonal patterns of precipitation extremes for different topographical regions are different. The major precipitation events of AM1R, AM3R, AM5R and AM7R in regions of low-elevation in lower (south-eastern) part of the basin occur mainly in May, June, July and August, while the main precipitation periods for the mountainous region upstream are June, July and August. Further analysis of the NCAR/NCEP reanalysis data indicates that the eastern Asian summer monsoon and typhoons (or hurricanes) are major metrological driving forces on the precipitation regimes. Additionally, topographical features (i.e. elevation, distance to the sea, and mountain’s influences) also exert different impacts on the spatial patterns of such regimes. To the best of our knowledge, this study is the first attempt to conduct a systematic regional frequency analysis on various annual precipitation extremes (based on consecutive 1-, 3-, 5-, 7-day averages) and to establish the possible links to climate pattern and topographical features in the Pearl River Basin and even in China. These findings are expected to contribute to exploring the complex spatio-temporal patterns of extreme rainfall in this basin in order to reveal the underlying linkages between precipitation and floods from a broad geographical perspective. (C) 2009 Published by Elsevier B.V.
2010. Vol. 380, no 3-4, 386-405 p.