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Attribution of Extreme Weather Events in the Context of Climate Change (2016)

A report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine concludes it is now possible to estimate the influence of climate change on some types of extreme events. The science of extreme event attribution has advanced rapidly in recent years, giving new insight to the ways that human-caused climate change can influence the magnitude or frequency of some extreme weather events. This report examines the current state of science of extreme weather attribution, and identifies ways to move the science forward to improve attribution capabilities.

Confidence is strongest in attributing types of extreme events that are influenced by climate change through a well-understood physical mechanism, such as, the more frequent heat waves that are closely connected to human-caused global temperature increases, the report finds. Confidence is lower for other types of events, such as hurricanes, whose relationship to climate change is more complex and less understood at present. For any extreme event, the results of attribution studies hinge on how questions about the event’s causes are posed, and on the data, modeling approaches, and statistical tools chosen for the analysis.

Follow the conversation on Twitter: #ExtremeWeather

View an infographic based on the report’s findings

Download slides from the report release briefing event (PDF, 11MB)

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tqd-G0TJL6c?rel=0&w=576&h=324] The report release briefing featured:

  • Opening remarks by Ralph Cicerone, President of the National Academy of Sciences and Chair of the National Research Council
  • A presentation by the Chair of the report’s authoring committee, David Titley of the Pennsylvania State University
  • A Q&A session with Dr. Titley and committee members Marshall Shepherd of the University of Georgia, Theodore Shepherd of the University of Reading, UK, and John Walsh of the University of Alaska, Fairbanks

The complete report is available for free PDF download here, along with a 4-page report brief.


NAS President Ralph Cicerone Titley Cropped Marshall-Shepherd-Cropped ted_shepherd-cropped Walsh-cropped
Ralph Cicerone David Titley Marshall Shepherd Theodore Shepherd John Walsh