Attribution Science: Climate Change & Extreme Weather

Read the full story from SciLine.

Extreme weather events such as life-threatening heat waves and record-breaking downpours are part of the natural climate system, but by definition they are relatively infrequent—even rare. In recent decades, however, some kinds of extreme weather events have become more common. Science has linked some of these general increases to climate change, but it has been difficult until recently to say with confidence whether any single extreme weather event was directly linked to, much less “caused by,” climate change. Advances in computer processing power and improved methods for sorting out the many factors that contribute to weather are now allowing scientists not only to determine the extent to which climate change is contributing to classes of extreme weather but also to say with confidence that certain extreme weather events would not or could not have occurred but for climate change. This is the science of extreme event attribution.

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