Recent precipitation trends and floods in the Colombian Andes

Álvaro Ávila, Faisury Cardona Guerrero, Yesid Carvajal Escobar, Flávio Justino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


This study aims to identify spatial and temporal precipitation trends by analyzing eight extreme climate indices of rainfall in the High Basin of the Cauca River in Southwestern Colombia from 1970 to 2013. The relation between historical floods and El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is also analyzed. Results indicate that in general, the reduction of precipitation, especially in the center of the basin with negative annual and seasonal trends in intensity indices, namely, the annual maximum 1-day precipitation amount (RX1day) and annual maximum 5-day precipitation amount (RX5day). Sixty-four percentage of the stations exhibit an increasing trend in September-October-November in the consecutive dry days. In December-January-February interval, positive trends in most of the stations is noted for total precipitation and for the number of wet days with rainfall greater than or equal to 1 mm. The findings also show that sea surface temperature (SST) in the equatorial Pacific is statistically correlated (r) with indices of extreme precipitation (r ≥ -0.40). However, the effect of ENSO is evident with a time lag of 2-3 months. These results are relevant for forecasting floods on a regional scale, since changes in SST of the equatorial Pacific may take place 2-3 months ahead of the basin inundation. Our results contribute to the understanding of extreme rainfall events, hydrological hazard forecasts and climate variability in the Colombian Andes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number379
JournalWater (Switzerland)
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2019
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Biochemistry
  • Aquatic Science
  • Water Science and Technology


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