1932

Abstract

Within the past decade, the attribution of extreme weather events and their impacts has enabled scientists, the public, and policymakers alike to connect real-world experiences of extreme weather events with scientific understanding of anthropogenic climate change. Attribution studies of recent extreme weather events have formed a new and important line of evidence in the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment report understanding present-day impacts of climate change. IPCC studies using different methods of event attribution have been assessed together, highlighting that these differences are smaller than the academic discourse on the methods suggests. This development raised two important research questions the science needs to answer: First, how do we formally combine attribution statements using highly conditional methods with probabilistic assessments of how climate change alters the likelihood and intensity of extreme weather events? Second, under what circumstances are individual attribution studies still necessary and to what extent do existing attribution studies provide enough information to answer societal questions? Furthermore, the scientific development still leaves important gaps, particularly in countries of the Global South, leading to ethical questions around the need and requirement of attribution of extreme events in policy contexts, informing adaptation and loss and damage and the role of vulnerability.

Loading

Article metrics loading...

/content/journals/10.1146/annurev-environ-112621-083538
2023-11-13
2024-04-14
Loading full text...

Full text loading...

/deliver/fulltext/energy/48/1/annurev-environ-112621-083538.html?itemId=/content/journals/10.1146/annurev-environ-112621-083538&mimeType=html&fmt=ahah

Literature Cited

  1. 1.
    Otto FEL. 2017. Attribution of weather and climate events. Annu. Rev. Environ. Resour. 42:627–46
    [Google Scholar]
  2. 2.
    Seneviratne S, Zhang X, Adnan M, Badi W, Dereczynski C et al. 2021. Weather and climate extreme events in a changing climate. Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis. Working Group I Contribution to the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change V Masson-Delmotte, P Zhai, A Pirani, SL Connors, C Péan, et al. 1513–766. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press
    [Google Scholar]
  3. 3.
    Chen D, Rojas M, Samset B, Cobb K, Diongue-Niang A et al. 2021. Framing, context, and methods. Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis. Working Group I Contribution to the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change ed. V Masson-Delmotte, P Zhai, A Pirani, SL Connors, C Péan, et al. 147–286. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press
    [Google Scholar]
  4. 4.
    Masson-Delmotte V, Zhai P, Pirani A, Connors SL, Péan C et al., eds. 2021. Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis. Working Group I Contribution to the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate ChangeSummary for Policymakers Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press
    [Google Scholar]
  5. 5.
    Jézéquel A, Dépoues V, Guillemot H, Trolliet M, Vanderlinden J-P, You P. 2018. Behind the veil of extreme event attribution. Clim. Change 149:367–83Seminal publication showing that the perceived dichotomy between the storyline and probabilistic approach to extreme event attribution does not exist.
    [Google Scholar]
  6. 6.
    Otto FEL, Harrington L, Schmitt K, Philip S, Kew S et al. 2020. Challenges to understanding extreme weather changes in lower income countries. Bull. Am. Meteorol. Soc. 101:E1851–60Highlights the discrepancies between attribution in the Global North and in the Global South and challenges and opportunities to closing the gap.
    [Google Scholar]
  7. 7.
    Ebi KL, Ogden N, Semenza J, Woodward A. 2020. Detecting and attributing health burdens to climate change. Environ. Health Perspect. 125:85004
    [Google Scholar]
  8. 8.
    Ebi KL, Åström C, Boyer CJ, Harrington LJ, Hess JJ et al. 2020. Using detection and attribution to quantify how climate change is affecting health. Health Aff. 39:2168–74
    [Google Scholar]
  9. 9.
    Frame D, Rosier S, Carey-Smith T, Harrington L, Dean S, Noy I. 2018. Estimating financial costs of climate change in New Zealand Rep. N. Z. Clim. Change Res. Inst. Vic. Univ. Wellingt. N. Z.:
  10. 10.
    Frame DJ, Wehner MF, Noy I, Rosier SM. 2020. The economic costs of Hurricane Harvey attributable to climate change. Clim. Change 160:271–81
    [Google Scholar]
  11. 11.
    Wehner M, Sampson C. 2021. Attributable human-induced changes in the magnitude of flooding in the Houston, Texas region during Hurricane Harvey. Clim. Change 166:20
    [Google Scholar]
  12. 12.
    Sippel S, El-Madany TS, Migliavacca M, Mahecha MD, Carrara A et al. 2017. Warm winter, wet spring, and an extreme response in ecosystem functioning on the Iberian peninsula. Bull. Am. Meteor. Soc. 99::S80–85
    [Google Scholar]
  13. 13.
    Stone DA, Rosier SM, Frame DJ. 2021. The question of life, the universe and event attribution. Nat. Clim. Change 11:276–78
    [Google Scholar]
  14. 14.
    Nagy GJ, Filho WL, Azeiteiro UM, Heimfarth J, Verocai JE, Li C. 2018. An assessment of the relationships between extreme weather events, vulnerability, and the impacts on human wellbeing in Latin America. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 15:1802
    [Google Scholar]
  15. 15.
    Boyd E, James RA, Jones RG, Young HR, Otto FEL. 2017. A typology of loss and damage perspectives. Nat. Clim. Change 7:723–29
    [Google Scholar]
  16. 16.
    Zachariah M, Arulalan T, AchutaRao K, Saeed F. 2022.. Climate Change made devastating early heat in India and Pakistan 30 times more likely Rep. World Weather Attrib., Imp. Coll London, UK:
  17. 17.
    Otto FEL, Zachariah M, Fahad S, Siddiqi A, Kamil S et al. 2023. Climate change increased extreme monsoon rainfall, flooding highly vulnerable communities in Pakistan. Environ. Res. Clim. 2:25001
    [Google Scholar]
  18. 18.
    Schumacher DL, Zachariah M, Otto F. 2022. High temperatures exacerbated by climate change made 2022 Northern Hemisphere droughts more likely Rep. World Weather Attrib., Imp. Coll London, UK:
  19. 19.
    Reed KA, Stansfield AM, Wehner MF, Zarzycki CM. 2022. Forecasted attribution of the human influence on Hurricane Florence. Sci. Adv. 6:eaaw9253
    [Google Scholar]
  20. 20.
    Clarke B, Otto F, Stuart-Smith R, Harrington L. 2022. Extreme weather impacts of climate change: an attribution perspective. Environ. Res. Clim. 1:12001Large review of attribution papers on what can be learned about impacts of climate change on different types of extreme weather.
    [Google Scholar]
  21. 21.
    Boyd E, Otto FEL, De Rosa SP, Stuart-Smith R, Harrington LJ et al. Socialising attribution of climate events: progress, myths and future outlook SSRN Work. Pap. 4095068. https://ssrn.com/abstract=4095068
  22. 22.
    Boyd E, Otto FEL, Cedervall Lauta K, Raju E, James R et al. 2023. Attribution science, climate litigation and mobilisation around climate change: upward trends with profound implications. Glob. Sustain. In press
    [Google Scholar]
  23. 23.
    Hauser M, Gudmundsson L, Ort R, Jézéquel A, Haustein K et al. 2017. Methods and model dependency of extreme event attribution: the 2015 European drought. Earth's Future 5:1034–43
    [Google Scholar]
  24. 24.
    Shepherd TG, Boyd E, Calel RA, Chapman S, Dessai S et al. 2018. Storylines: an alternative approach to representing uncertainty in physical aspects of climate change. Clim. Change 151:555–71
    [Google Scholar]
  25. 25.
    Shepherd TG. 2016. A common framework for approaches to extreme event attribution. Curr. Clim. Change Rep. 2:28–38A framework to incorporate both the storyline and probabilistic approach to extreme event attribution.
    [Google Scholar]
  26. 26.
    Ciavarella A, Cotterill D, Stott P, Kew S, Philip S et al. 2021. Prolonged Siberian heat of 2020 almost impossible without human influence. . Clim. Change 166:9
    [Google Scholar]
  27. 27.
    Faranda D, Bourdin S, Ginesta M, Kruma M, Noyelle R et al. 2022. A climate-change attribution retrospective of some impactful weather extremes of 2021. Weather Clim. Dynam. 3:1311–40
    [Google Scholar]
  28. 28.
    van Oldenborgh GJ, van der Wiel K, Kew S, Philip S, Otto FEL et al. 2021. Pathways and pitfalls in extreme event attribution. Clim. Change 166:13
    [Google Scholar]
  29. 29.
    Fischer EM, Beyerle U, Schleussner CF, King AD, Knutti R. 2018. Biased estimates of changes in climate extremes from prescribed SST simulations. Geophys. Res. Lett. 45:8500–9
    [Google Scholar]
  30. 30.
    Sippel S, Otto FEL, Forkel M, Allen M, Guillod BP et al. 2016. A novel bias correction methodology for climate impact simulations. Earth Syst. Dynam. 7:71–88
    [Google Scholar]
  31. 31.
    Otto FEL, Harrington LJ, Frame D, Boyd E, Cedervall Lauta K et al. 2020. Towards an inventory of the impacts of human-induced climate change. Bull. Am. Meteorol. Soc. 101:E1972–79
    [Google Scholar]
  32. 32.
    World Weather Attribution 2021. Factors other than climate change are the main drivers of recent food insecurity in Southern Madagascar. World Weather Attribution Dec. 1. https://www.worldweatherattribution.org/factors-other-than-climate-change-are-the-main-drivers-of-recent-food-insecurity-in-southern-madagascar/
    [Google Scholar]
  33. 33.
    Harrington LJ, Wolski P, Pinto I, Ramarosandratana AM, Barimalala R et al. 2022. Limited role of climate change in extreme low rainfall associated with southern Madagascar food insecurity, 2019–21. Environ. Res. Clim. 1:21003
    [Google Scholar]
  34. 34.
    Olsson L, Thorén H, Harnesk D, Persson J. 2022. Ethics of probabilistic extreme event attribution in climate change science: a critique. Earth's Future 10:e2021EF002258
    [Google Scholar]
  35. 35.
    Otto F, Kew S, Philip S, Stott P, van Oldenborgh GJ. 2022. How to provide useful attribution statements: lessons learned from operationalising event attribution in Europe. Bull. Am. Meteor. Soc. 103:S21–25
    [Google Scholar]
  36. 36.
    Mann ME, Lloyd EA, Oreskes N. 2017. Assessing climate change impacts on extreme weather events: the case for an alternative (Bayesian) approach. Clim. Change 144:131–42
    [Google Scholar]
  37. 37.
    Lloyd EA, Oreskes N, Seneviratne SI, Larson EJ. 2021. Climate scientists set the bar of proof too high. Clim. Change 165:55
    [Google Scholar]
  38. 38.
    Lusk G. 2022. Looking forward and backward at extreme event attribution in climate policy. Ethics Policy Environ. 25:37–51
    [Google Scholar]
  39. 39.
    Diffenbaugh NS. 2020. Verification of extreme event attribution: using out-of-sample observations to assess changes in probabilities of unprecedented events. Sci. Adv. 6:eaay2368
    [Google Scholar]
  40. 40.
    Lloyd EA, Oreskes N. 2018. Climate change attribution: When is it appropriate to accept new methods?. Earth's Future 6:311–25Seminal publication showing how dangerous an overly conservative approach to event attribution is.
    [Google Scholar]
  41. 41.
    Lloyd EA, Shepherd TG. 2020. Environmental catastrophes, climate change, and attribution. Ann. N Y Acad Sci. 1469:105–24
    [Google Scholar]
  42. 42.
    Philip S, Kew S, van Oldenborgh GJ, Otto FEL, Vautard R et al. 2020. A protocol for probabilistic extreme event attribution analyses. Adv. Stat. Climatol. Meteorol. Oceanogr. 6:177–203
    [Google Scholar]
  43. 43.
    Otto FEL, Philip S, Kew S, Li S, King A, Cullen H. 2018. Attributing high-impact extreme events across timescales—a case study of four different types of events. Clim. Change 149:399–412
    [Google Scholar]
  44. 44.
    Philip S, Kew S, van Oldenborgh GJ, Aalbers E, Vautard R et al. 2018. Validation of a rapid attribution of the May/June 2016 flood-inducing precipitation in France to climate change. J. Hydrometeorol. 19:1881–98
    [Google Scholar]
  45. 45.
    van Oldenborgh GJ, Krikken F, Lewis S, Leach NJ, Lehner F et al. 2020. Attribution of the Australian bushfire risk to anthropogenic climate change. Nat. Hazards Earth System Sci. 21:941–60
    [Google Scholar]
  46. 46.
    van Garderen L, Mindlin J. 2022. A storyline attribution of the 2011/2012 drought in Southeastern South America. Weather 77:212–18
    [Google Scholar]
  47. 47.
    Harrington LJ, Ebi KL, Frame DJ, Otto FEL. 2022. Integrating attribution with adaptation for unprecedented future heatwaves. Clim. Change 172:2
    [Google Scholar]
  48. 48.
    Otto FEL, Minnerop P, Raju E, Harrington LJ, Stuart-Smith RF et al. 2022. Causality and the fate of climate litigation: the role of the social superstructure narrative. Glob. Policy 13:736–50
    [Google Scholar]
  49. 49.
    Patton LE. 2021. Litigation needs the latest science. Nat. Clim. Change 11:644–45
    [Google Scholar]
  50. 50.
    Marjanac S, Patton L. 2018. Extreme weather event attribution science and climate change litigation: an essential step in the causal chain?. J. Energy Nat. Resour. Law 36:265–98
    [Google Scholar]
  51. 51.
    McCormick S, Glicksmann RJ, Simmons SJ, Paddock L, Kim D, Whited B. 2018. Strategies in and outcomes of climate change litigation in the United States. Nat. Clim. Change 8:829–33
    [Google Scholar]
  52. 52.
    Stuart-Smith RF, Otto FEL, Saad AI, Lisi G, Minnerop P et al. 2021. Filling the evidentiary gap in climate litigation. Nat. Clim. Change 11:651–55
    [Google Scholar]
  53. 53.
    Burger M, Wentz J, Horton RM. 2020. The law and science of climate change attribution. Columbia J. Environ. Law 45:57
    [Google Scholar]
  54. 54.
    Pfrommer T, Goeschl T, Proelss A, Carriere M, Lenhard J et al. 2019. Establishing causation in climate litigation: admissibility and reliability. Clim. Change 152:67–84
    [Google Scholar]
  55. 55.
    Minnerop P, Otto FEL. 2020. Climate change and causation. Joining law and climate science on the basis of formal logic. Buff. Environ. Law J. 27:49 https://heinonline.org/HOL/LandingPage?handle=hein.journals/bufev27&div=5&id=&page
    [Google Scholar]
  56. 56.
    Clarke BJ, Otto F, Jones RG. 2021. Inventories of extreme weather events and impacts: implications for loss and damage from and adaptation to climate extremes. Clim. Risk Manag. 32:100285
    [Google Scholar]
  57. 57.
    Callaghan MW, Minx JC, Forster PM. 2020. A topography of climate change research. Nat. Clim. Change 10:118–23
    [Google Scholar]
  58. 58.
    Castro Torres AF, Alburez-Gutierrez D. 2022. North and South: naming practices and the hidden dimension of global disparities in knowledge production. PNAS 119:e2119373119
    [Google Scholar]
  59. 59.
    Gay-Antaki M. 2021. Stories from the IPCC: An essay on climate science in fourteen questions. Glob. Environ. Change 71:102384
    [Google Scholar]
  60. 60.
    van Oldenborgh GJ, Wehner M, Vautard R, Otto FEL, Seneviratne SI et al. 2022. Attributing and projecting heatwaves is hard: We can do better. Earth's Future 10:e2021EF002271
    [Google Scholar]
  61. 61.
    Fowler HJ, Ali H, Allan R, Ban N, Barbero R et al. 2021. Towards advancing scientific knowledge of climate change impacts on short-duration rainfall extremes. Philos. Trans. R. Soc. A 379:20190542
    [Google Scholar]
  62. 62.
    Risser MD, Paciorek CJ, Wehner MF, O'Brien TA, Collins WD 2018. A probabilistic gridded product for daily precipitation extremes over the United States. Clim. Dyn. 53:2517–38
    [Google Scholar]
  63. 63.
    Patricola CM, Wehner MF. 2018. Anthropogenic influences on major tropical cyclone events. Nature 563:339–46
    [Google Scholar]
  64. 64.
    Kawase H, Watanabe S, Hirockawa Y, Imada Y. 2022. Timely event attribution of extreme precipitation in Japan: an example of heavy rainfall in July 2020. Bull. Am. Meteorol. Soc. 103:S118–23
    [Google Scholar]
  65. 65.
    Lusk G. 2017. The social utility of event attribution: liability, adaptation, and justice-based loss and damage. Clim. Change 143:201–12
    [Google Scholar]
  66. 66.
    Lahsen M, Ribot J. 2022. Politics of attributing extreme events and disasters to climate change. WIREs Clim. Change 13:e750
    [Google Scholar]
  67. 67.
    Ettinger J, Walton P, Painter J, Osaka S, Otto FEL. 2021.. “ What's up with the weather?” Public engagement with extreme event attribution in the UK. Weather Clim. Soc. 13:341–52
    [Google Scholar]
  68. 68.
    Osaka S, Bellamy R. 2020. Natural variability or climate change? Stakeholder and citizen perceptions of extreme event attribution. Glob. Environ. Change 62:102070
    [Google Scholar]
  69. 69.
    Osaka S, Painter J, Walton P, Halperin A. 2020. Media representation of extreme event attribution: a case study of the 2011–17 California drought. Weather Clim. Soc. 12:847–62
    [Google Scholar]
  70. 70.
    Raju E, Boyd E, Otto FEL. 2022. Stop blaming the climate for disasters. Commun. Earth Environ. 3:1Highlights how important it is to address vulnerability and climate change in a common framework.
    [Google Scholar]
  71. 71.
    Kelman I, Gaillard JC, Lewis J, Mercer J. 2016. Learning from the history of disaster vulnerability and resilience research and practice for climate change. Nat. Hazards 82:129–43
    [Google Scholar]
  72. 72.
    Martins ESPR, Coelho CAS, Haarsma R, Otto FEL, King AD et al. 2018. A multimethod attribution analysis of the prolonged northeast Brazil hydrometeorological drought (2012–16). Bull. Am. Meteor. Soc. 99:S65–69
    [Google Scholar]
  73. 73.
    Kew SF, Philip S, Hauser M, Hobbins M, Wanders N et al. 2021. Impact of precipitation and increasing temperatures on drought trends in eastern Africa. Earth Syst. Dyn. 12:17–35
    [Google Scholar]
  74. 74.
    Uhe P, Kew S, Philip S, Shah K, Kimutai J et al. 2017. Attributing drivers of the 2016 Kenyan drought. Int. J. Clim. 38:e554–68
    [Google Scholar]
  75. 75.
    Luu LN, Scussolini P, Kew S, Philip S, Hariadi MH et al. 2021. Attribution of typhoon-induced torrential precipitation in Central Vietnam, October 2020. Clim. Change 169:24
    [Google Scholar]
  76. 76.
    Rana IA, Routray JK. 2018. Multidimensional model for vulnerability assessment of urban flooding: an empirical study in Pakistan. Int. J. Disaster Risk Sci. 9:359–75
    [Google Scholar]
  77. 77.
    Leach N, Li S, Sparrow S, van Oldenborgh GJ, Lott F et al. 2020. Anthropogenic influence on the 2018 summer warm spell in Europe: the impact of different spatio-temporal scales. Bull. Am. Met. Soc. 101:S41–46
    [Google Scholar]
  78. 78.
    Harrington LJ, Otto FEL. 2020. Reconciling theory with the reality of African heatwaves. Nat. Clim. Change 10:796–98
    [Google Scholar]
  79. 79.
    Vogel MM, Zscheischler J, Wartenburger R, Dee D, Seneviratne SI. 2019. Concurrent 2018 hot extremes across Northern Hemisphere due to human-induced climate change. Earth's Future 7:692–703
    [Google Scholar]
  80. 80.
    Zscheischler J, Lehner F. 2022. Attributing compound events to anthropogenic climate change. Bull. Am. Meteorol. Soc. 103:E936–53
    [Google Scholar]
  81. 81.
    Krikken F, Lehner F, Haustein K, Drobyshev I, van Oldenborgh GJ. 2019. Attribution of the role of climate change in the forest fires in Sweden 2018. Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss. 21:2169–79
    [Google Scholar]
  82. 82.
    Li S, Sparrow S, Otto FEL, Rifai SW, Oliveras I et al. 2021. Anthropogenic climate change contribution to wildfire-prone weather conditions in the Cerrado and Arc of deforestation. Environ. Res. Lett. 16:94051
    [Google Scholar]
  83. 83.
    Philip S, Sparrow S, Kew S, van der Wiel K, Wanders N et al. 2019. Attributing the 2017 Bangladesh floods from meteorological and hydrological perspectives. Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. 23:1409–29
    [Google Scholar]
  84. 84.
    Stuart-Smith RF, Roe GH, Li S, Allen MR. 2021. Increased outburst flood hazard from Lake Palcacocha due to human-induced glacier retreat. Nat. Geosci. 14:85–90
    [Google Scholar]
  85. 85.
    Teufel B, Diro GT, Whan K, Milrad SM, Jeong DI et al. 2017. Investigation of the 2013 Alberta flood from weather and climate perspectives. Clim. Dyn. 48:2881–99
    [Google Scholar]
  86. 86.
    Strauss BH, Orton PM, Bittermann K, Buchanan MK, Gilford DM et al. 2021. Economic damages from Hurricane Sandy attributable to sea level rise caused by anthropogenic climate change. Nat. Commun. 12:2720
    [Google Scholar]
  87. 87.
    Li S, Otto FEL. 2022. The role of human-induced climate change in heavy rainfall events such as the one associated with Typhoon Hagibis. Clim. Change 172:7
    [Google Scholar]
  88. 88.
    Perkins-Kirkpatrick SE, Stone DA, Mitchell DM, Rosier S, King AD et al. 2022. On the attribution of the impacts of extreme weather events to anthropogenic climate change. Environ. Res. Lett. 17:024009
    [Google Scholar]
  89. 89.
    James RA, Jones RG, Boyd E, Young HR, Otto FEL et al. 2019. Attribution: How is it relevant for loss and damage policy and practice?. Loss and Damage from Climate Change: Concepts, Methods and Policy Options R Mechler, LM Bouwer, T Schinko, S Surminski, J Linnerooth-Bayer 113–54. Cham, Switz.: Springer
    [Google Scholar]
  90. 90.
    U.N. Framew. Convention Clim. Change 2015. Paris Agreement. United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change https://unfccc.int/process-and-meetings/the-paris-agreement/the-paris-agreement
    [Google Scholar]
  91. 91.
    O'Neill B, van Aalst M, Zaiton Ibrahim Z, Berrang Ford L, Bhadwal S et al. 2022. Key risks across sectors and regions. Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change H-O Pörtner, DC Roberts, M Tignor, ES Poloczanska, K Mintenbeck, et al. 2411–538. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press
    [Google Scholar]
/content/journals/10.1146/annurev-environ-112621-083538
Loading
/content/journals/10.1146/annurev-environ-112621-083538
Loading

Data & Media loading...

  • Article Type: Review Article
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error