“As the climate has warmed over recent years, a new pattern of more frequent and more intense weather events has unfolded across the globe. Climate models simulate such changes in extreme events, and some of the reasons for the changes are well understood. Warming increases the likelihood of extremely hot days and nights, favors increased atmospheric moisture that may result in more frequent heavy rainfall and snowfall and leads to evaporation that can exacerbate droughts.

Even with evidence of these broad trends, scientists cautioned in the past that individual weather events couldn’t be attributed to climate change. Now, with advances in understanding the climate science behind extreme events and the science of extreme event attribution, such blanket statements may not be accurate. The relatively young science of extreme event attribution seeks to tease out the influence of human-caused climate change from other factors, such as natural sources of variability like El Niño, as contributors to individual extreme events.

Event attribution can answer questions about how much climate change influenced the probability or intensity of a specific type of weather event. As event attribution capabilities improve, they could help inform choices about assessing and managing risk, and in guiding climate adaptation strategies. This report examines the current state of the science of extreme weather attribution and identifies ways to move the science forward to improve attribution capabilities.”

Contributor(s): National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; Division on Earth and Life StudiesBoard on Atmospheric Sciences and ClimateCommittee on Extreme Weather Events and Climate Change Attribution

This study was supported by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation under contract number 2015-63077, the Heising-Simons Foundation under contract number 2015-095, the Litterman Family Foundation, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration under contract number NNX15AW55G, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration under contract number EE-133E-15-SE-1748, and the U.S. Department of Energy under contract number DE-SC0014256, with additional support from the National Academy of Sciences’ Arthur L. Day Fund. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of any organization or agency that provided support for the project.

International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-38094-2
International Standard Book Number-10: 0-309-38094-4
Library of Congress Control Number: 2016946880
Digital Object Identifier: 10.17226/21852

(Source: National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Attribution of Extreme Weather Events in the Context of Climate Change. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21852.)

© 2023 National Academy of Sciences. All Rights Reserved.

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