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In 1986, a Chapman Conference on "Rainfall Fields: Estimation, Analysis and Prediction" was held in Caracas, Venezuela, under the sponsorship of the American Geophysical Union. The conference was the initiative of Professor Vijay K. Gupta (Chair of the AGU Hydrology Section precipitation committee at the time, and now at the University of Colorado) and Professor Ignacio Rodriguez-Iturbe (now at Princeton University). It was recognized through discussions in the precipitation committee that the existing communication gaps between the hydrological sciences, the atmospheric sciences and the statistics/applied probability communities on precipitation research was a serious problem that needed to be addressed. A total of 36 scientists from the United States, Latin America, Canada, and Europe assembled for four days in a quiet natural setting on the outskirts of Caracas. These scientists had a common interest in rainfall analysis, modelling and forecasting, but had diverse backgrounds in atmospheric sciences, hydrological sciences, mathematics, and statistics. After long formal and informal discussions at the conference, the participants concluded that fostering such interdisciplinary interaction would be of great benefit to all three communities and would greatly accelerate further progress on precipitation research. In addition, a series of developments since then, which are outside the disciplinary boundaries of meteorology, hydrology and statistics, but which concern nonlinear processes and turbulence as well as new observational technologies of radar and satellite remote sensing, have greatly helped overcome many longstanding difficulties.
That Chapman Conference marked the beginning of a series of biennial International Conferences on Precipitation. The second conference, entitled "Mesoscale Precipitation: Analysis, Simulation, and Forecasting," was organized at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA, in 1988 and it was followed by a series of seven more meetings organized by precipitation scientists and held at Texas A&M University, USA (1991), University of Iowa, USA (1993), Elounda, Greece (1995), Hawaii (1998), Rockport, Maine, USA (2001), Vancouver, Canada (2005) and in Paris, France (2007). Support for the conferences increased and over the years came to include the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Commission of the European Communities (EC) and the US Department of Energy (DOE). They enjoyed steady sponsorship from the American Geophysical Union (AGU) and the American Meteorological Society (AMS). The attendance of these conferences swelled from 36 scientists in 1986, to about 200 in 2007. Common topics of the series included precipitation observations, variability, and predictability at a range of spatial and temporal scales.
In recent years discussions began questioning the need for continuing the series. Some think that while the conferences have been successful in stimulating research, fostering interdisciplinary interaction, affecting funding directions, and attracting numerous participants, they have tended to lose their unique role owing to the growing number of other avenues that allow the sharing of research results and directions. These include sessions and conferences organized by the AGU, AMS, European Geosciences Union (EGU), specialty conferences such as Clouds and Precipitation, Hydrologic Applications of Weather Radars, the Plinius Conference on Mediterranean Storms and so forth. 
Amidst these ongoing discussions on the future of the series, Coimbra (Portugal) will be hosting the tenth International Precipitation Conference on 23-25 June, 2010, with the special theme "Space-time precipitation from urban scale to global change", and with the objective of promoting a focused interdisciplinary discussion of the present state of knowledge, as well as the necessary advances in research and application disciplines related to precipitation. Come to Coimbra to celebrate the accomplishment of the previous nine meetings and to decide on the future of the series.