Changes in rainfall characteristics over the Maritime Continent affect a rapidly increasing population of 275 million people through effects on agriculture, forest fires, floods and vector-borne diseases. However, current atmospheric models fail to represent most features of precipitation in the region, such as its distinctive strong diurnal cycle. Therefore, our knowledge of the physical processes initiating and propagating convective systems that generate precipitation in the Maritime Continent is very limited. In addition, the Maritime Continent is at a centre of interactions across scales, hence global model errors in this region propagate through the entire earth system and affect model estimates in remote regions too. This project is aimed at exploring our ability to simulate realistic precipitation by incorporating explicit convection and fine-scale ocean-atmosphere interactions in regional models. We will quantify the interplay between sea breeze circulation, ocean-atmosphere processes and convective systems to produce precipitation in the Maritime Continent and how it could change in the future. As such, this project will also advance our understanding of sea breeze and convective processes that are of major importance to a breadth of locations globally.

REHIPRE is aimed at improving our ability to simulate realistic precipitation and tropical convection in the Maritime Continent

This project funded by the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme is aimed at improving our understanding of the physical mechanisms driving tropical convection and how we incorporate them in mesoscale models. Since tropical precipitation is predominantly generated by deep convection,  this project will lead to a more realistic simulation of rainfall in the tropics and will help us determine present and future characteristics of precipitation in the Maritime Continent. 

A realistic simulation of precipitation processes in the Maritime Continent, and more broadly in the tropics, is vital to advance our knowledge of the climate system and increase population resilience to posisble future changes.

The Maritime Continent

The Maritime Continent is the largest archipelago in the world, it is surrounded by one of the warmest oceans in the Earth (Indo-Pacific warm pool) and it is a major convective centre. It is a region that has sparked great interest because most atmospheric models fail to represent many of its precipitation features, such as the diurnal cycle. In addition, it is home of multiple interactions across scales, hence global model errors in this area propagate through the entire Earth system and may affect model estimates in remote regions.

Two key examples of the interactions across scales that occur in the Maritime Continent are the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) and the Walker Circulation.

Madden-Julian Oscillation

The Madden-Julian Oscillation is an intra-seasonal mode of variability that occurs in the tropics and tightly coupled to deep convection. It propagates from west to east along the equator and is know to interact with local topography. The Maritime Continent acts as a barrier that hinders its propagation eastward and precipitation in the region is directly modulated by the MJO phase. Both the UK MetOffice ( and the Australian BoM ( are great places to learn more about the MJO.



El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and Walker Circulation

The Walker Circulation is an atmospheric circulation that forms part of the El Niño Souther Oscillation (ENSO). ENSO is the one of the largest mode of variability in the Earth and has implications worldwide. It is a phenomenon characterised by variations in sea surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean and accompanied by very specific atmospheric patterns. The ascending branch of the Walker circulation is predominantly located over the Maritime Continent and is closely related to deep convection in the region.

ENSO and Walker circulation. Source: Christensen et al. Ch14 AR5 IPCC 2013

Thus the physical mechanisms responsible for the generation and development of deep convection are connected to ENSO through the Walker circulation and are crucial at global scales. More information on ENSO and the Walker Circulation may be found in the US Weather Service website (


Precipitation in the Maritime Continent has a marked diurnal cycle that is tightly connected to temperature land-sea contrasts and sea breeze circulation. Sea breeze combined with very complex topograhy and plenty of moisture available are key ingredients in the triggering and development of deep convection, which is the primary rainfall-generating process in the region.

Thus, precipitation errors in the tropics, and specifically in the Maritime Continent are often attributed to the misrepresentaiton of the rainfall diurnal cycle and how we represent convection in models. 

Climate models have incresed their resolution in the last decade with the aim to explicitly resolve physical processes, such as convection in regional models, that otherwise need to be parameterized. By parameterizing, we mean introducing the process into the equations through semi-empirical approximations so that their role is taken into account even if the grid space is too coarse to resolve them. In the case of convection, the idea is to better represent the complex response of vertical motions and precipitation to the environmetal conditions. But we are reaching model resolutions where this is no longer required and recent research has shown that there is huge potential for improved precipitation simulation when convection is explicitly resolved (i.e. convection-permitting models). 

Also, if land-sea thermal contrasts are determinant in the generation of convection through local ciruclation patterns such as the sea breeze, it is also necessary to accurately represent mesoscale interactions between the air and the ocean.

Therefore, including both explicit convection and ocean-atmosphere interactions in models is an exciting step forward with impacts that this project will help quantify. 



The main objectives of REHIPRE are:


  1. Evaluation of the model resolution effect on sea-breeze, convective processes and precipitation. Quantifying the improvement of simulated precipitation characteristics obtained from increased detail and explicit convection in an atmospheric model.
  2. Identification of key mechanisms required to correctly represent sea-breeze and convection. Determining how convection-permitting models and ocean-atmosphere-land coupled systems represent these mechanisms. Quantifying the importance of these features on the improvement of convective precipitation estimates.
  3. Establishing implications of future climate change for sea-breeze and convective processes. Understanding the potential contribution of thermodynamical changes from greenhouse gas emissions to mesoscale circulation and tropical convection.


Publications fully or partly funded by this project

Y. Li, H.J. Fowler, D. Argüeso, S. Blekinshop, J.P. Evans, G. Lenderink, X. Yang, S.B. Guerreiro, and E. Lewis adn X-F. Li. Strong intensification of hourly rainfall extremes by urbanization. Geophysical Research Letters, 2020. Accepted June 2020.

D. Argüeso, R. Romero and V. Homar. Precipitation features of the Maritime Continent in parameterized and explicit convection models. Journal of Climate, 33(6):2449-2466 2020.

A.L. Hirsch, J.P. Evans, G. Di Virgilio, S.E. Perkins-Kirkpatrick, D. Argüeso, A.J. Pitman, C. Carouge, J. Kala, J. Andrys, P. Petrelli, and B. Rockel. Amplification of australian heat- waves via local land-atmosphere coupling. Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres. 124: 13625-13647 2019.

G. Di Virgilio, J.P. Evans, A. Di Luca, R. Olson, D. Argüeso, J. Kala, J. Andrys, P. Hoffmann, J.J. Katzfey and B. Rockel. Evaluating reanalysis-driven CORDEX regional climate models over Australia: model performance and errors. Climate Dynamics, 53(5-6): 2985-3005 2019.


Conference communications funded by this project

D. Argüeso and A. Di Luca and R. Romero. Mechanisms improving tropical rainfall diurnal cycle in convection-permitting WRF. Joint WRF and MPAS users’ workshop 2019, Colorado, Boulder (US). 10-14 June 2019. Oral

D. Argüeso and A. Di Luca and R. Romero. Maritime Continent rainfall features in a convection-permitting model. European Geophysical Union General Assembly 2019, Vienna (Austria). 8-12 April 2019. Oral

D. Argüeso and R. Romero. Effect of resolved convection on the Maritime Continent precipitation and related physical processes in a regional model. American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting 2018 – AGU 2018, Washington DC (USA). 10-14 December 2018.

D. Argüeso, A. Di Luca, J.P. Evans and R. Romero. Simulating realistic precipitation with convection-permitting models in the Maritime Continent. Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society Annual Meeting 2018 and International Conference on Southern Hemisphere Meteorology and Oceanography 2018 – AMOS-ICSHMO 2018, Sydney (Australia). 5-9 February 2018. Lightning oral

Other publications related to this project

Y. Li, N.C. Jourdain, A.S. Taschetto, A. Sen Gupta, D. Argüeso, S. Masson and W. Cai. Resolution dependence of the simulated precipitation and diurnal cycle over the Maritime Continent. Climate Dynamics, 48(11-12):4009-4028 2017.  

D. Argüeso, A. Di Luca and J.P. Evans. Precipitation over urban areas in the western Maritime Continent using a convection-permitting model. Climate Dynamics, 47(3):1143-1159 2016. 

Other conference communications related to this project

D. Argüeso, A. Di Luca and J.P. Evans. Does convection-permitting resolution improve simulated precipitation in the Maritime Continent?. International Conference on Regional Climate – CORDEX 2016, Stockholm (Sweden). 17-20 May 2016. Oral

D. Argüeso, A. Di Luca and J.P. Evans. Urban-enhanced precipitation in the Maritime Continent from a convection permitting model. Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society National Conference 2016, Melbourne (Australia). 8-11 February 2016. Oral

D. Argüeso, J.P. Evans and A. Di Luca. Impact of model spatial resolution on precipitation extremes. 7th International Scientific Conference on the Global Water and Energy Cycle – GEWEX Conference 2014, The Hague (The Netherlands). July 2014. 


Collaborative visits
  • National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Boulder, CO, USA. June 2019. Visit to Dr Newman and Dr Rasmussen.
  • Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - Institut des Géosciences de l’Environnement (CNRS-IGE) Grenoble, France. March 2018. Visit to Dr Journdain.[Secondment]
  • ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes (ARC CLEX) - University of New South Wales (UNSW CCRC), Sydney, Australia. February 2018. Visit to Dr. Di Luca and Prof. Evans. 
  • Tropical rainfall simulated by a convection-permitted ocean-atmosphere coupled regional model. National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Boulder, CO, USA. 18 June 2019. D. Argüeso
  • Introduction to GIT version control software. Universitat de les Illes Balears (UIB) Palma, Spain. 9 May 2019. D Argüeso