The paper analyses the spatial and temporal characteristics of extreme precipitation in the upper reaches of the Yangtze River through extreme precipitation indicators based on the trend method, the Mann–Kendall trend test, and the rescaled extreme deviation extreme deviation using daily precipitation data from 1961 to 2021. The following conclusions were obtained: The overall precipitation in the upper reaches of the Yangtze River is reduced, and the number of rainy days is reduced. The frequency of extreme precipitation is generally reduced, but the spatial difference in the intensity of extreme precipitation is greater, which makes the occurrence of extreme precipitation more concentrated and more destructive. Extreme precipitation indicators showed relatively large fluctuations after 2000, especially in terms of extreme precipitation intensity. The frequency of extreme precipitation in the upper reaches of the Yangtze River is the highest in the main stream of the Yangtze River Basin and the Wujiang River Basin, the intensity of extreme precipitation is in the Jialing River and the Wujiang River Basin, and the accumulation of extreme precipitation is the highest in the Jialing River and the Wujiang River Basin, whereas the maximum value of the station extreme precipitation intensity and frequency is in the Minjiang River Basin.

  • The overall extreme precipitation characteristics of the upper reaches of the Yangtze River under climate change were analysed.

  • Differences in extreme precipitation characteristics of the first-tier tributaries of the upper Yangtze River were analysed.

  • Changes in water resources in the upper reaches of the Yangtze River have a major impact on China's economy, food security, and energy resources.

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