AbstractA multifractal analysis of hourly and daily rainfall data recorded at four locations of Andalusia (southern Spain) was carried out in order to study the temporal structure of rainfall and to find differences between both time resolutions. The results show that an algebraic tail is required to fit the probability distribution of the extreme rain events for all the cases. The presence of a multifractal phase transition associated with a critical moment in the empirical moments scaling exponent function was also detected. Both facts indicate that the rainfall process is a case of self‐organized criticality (SOC) dynamics, although the results differ for each place according to the time resolution and the nature of the rainfall, either convective or frontal. This SOC behaviour is related to a statistically steady state that implies the presence of clusterization in the time‐occurrence sequence of rain events. Such fluctuations have been shown by performing the analysis of the Fano and Allan factors and the count‐based periodogram. The values for the “synoptic maximum”, the typical lifetime of planetary scale atmospheric structures, have been obtained for each place and some important periodicities have been detected when dealing with extremes. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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