Dec 16, 2015

Attribution of extreme weather and climate-related events

Stott, Peter A., Christidis, Nikolaos, Otto, Friederike E. L., Sun, Ying, Vanderlinden, Jean‐Paul, van Oldenborgh, Geert Jan, Vautard, Robert, von Storch, Hans, Walton, Peter, Yiou, Pascal, Zwiers, Francis W.
Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change
  • States that extreme weather and climate-related events occur in a particular place, by definition, infrequently, and that it is therefore challenging to detect systematic changes in their occurrence given the relative shortness of observational records
  • States there is a clear interest from outside the climate science community in the extent to which recent damaging extreme events can be linked to human-induced climate change or natural climate variability
  • Summarizes that event attribution studies seek to determine to what extent anthropogenic climate change has altered the probability or magnitude of particular events
  • Finds that attribution studies have shown clear evidence for human influence having increased the probability of many extremely warm seasonal temperatures and reduced the probability of extremely cold seasonal temperatures in many parts of the world
  • Finds that the evidence for human influence on the probability of extreme precipitation events, droughts, and storms is more mixed
  • Makes the disclaimer that although the science of event attribution has developed rapidly in recent years, geographical coverage of events remains patchy and based on the interests and capabilities of individual research groups
  • Argues the development of operational event attribution would allow a more timely and methodical production of attribution assessments than currently obtained on an ad hoc basis
  • Argues that for event attribution assessments to be most useful, remaining scientific uncertainties need to be robustly assessed and the results clearly communicated