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Temporal changes in extreme precipitation and exposure of tourism in Eastern and South-Eastern Spain

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Climate change is modifying the arrival of tourists in the Mediterranean region of Spain, and also the occurrence of extreme torrential rainfall events in the same area, affecting the tourist potentiality of the area. These events show a good relationship with the Western Mediterranean Oscillation (WeMO) on the Mediterranean coast of Spain. From 1950 to 2016, 239 episodes of extreme torrential rainfall (≥200 mm/24 h) were recorded in the Júcar and Segura hydrographic basins. 92.1% of these events took place during a negative WeMO phase. We performed calendar and Fourier analyses to study the WeMO index (WeMOi) intraannual variability. The lowest WeMOi values tally with the highest frequency of extreme torrential rainfall events during the second 10-day period of October. A change in the calendar of the minimum values of the WeMOi was identified between 1950 and 1982 and 1983–2016. Negative WeMOi values persist until November during the second subperiod. This might be associated with a new temporal distribution of extreme torrential events of precipitation. This has given rise to greater exposure of people to torrential events in autumn. Tourism in this area faces new challenges related to the increase in tourist numbers, and also to the exposure risk to rainfall events.

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The authors are grateful to the CLICES Project (CGL2017-83866-C3-2-R), the WEMOTOR Project (CSO2014-55799-C2-1-R), the Proyecto de Investigación de Pregrado 5780-19 from the Universidad de Tarapacá, and the Climatology Group of the University of Barcelona (2017 SGR 1362, Catalan Government) for their support.


This research is jointly supported by the CLICES Project (CGL2017–83866-C3–2-R) from the Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness of the Spanish Government.

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OMR conceived and wrote the manuscript. OMR and JALB developed the WeMOi calendars, LA collected and analyzed the tourism data. JMV carried out the Fourier analysis. JM and MJE analyzed the precipitation data quality.

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Correspondence to Oliver Meseguer-Ruiz.

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Meseguer-Ruiz, O., Lopez-Bustins, J.A., Arbiol-Roca, L. et al. Temporal changes in extreme precipitation and exposure of tourism in Eastern and South-Eastern Spain. Theor Appl Climatol 144, 379–390 (2021).

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