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Pinpointing the role of climate change in every storm is impossible – and a luxury most countries can’t afford

3 28 0

Tropical Storm Ida recently left a path of devastation across the US, capping a summer beset by wildfires, heatwaves and floods which broke records around the world. The inevitable question after each of these extreme weather events is the same: to what extent did climate change make it worse?

This is normally where the science of extreme event attribution steps in and identifies whether and to what extent human-caused climate change altered the likelihood and intensity of the event. Event attribution studies have delivered clearer results partly as the methods and models that scientists use have improved, but mostly because the signal of climate change is becoming clearer with every extra tonne of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere.

The added value of attribution science is taking the default answer of climate scientists – that extreme events are something we expect to see more of in a warmer world – and wrapping numbers around these changes. Attribution studies can provide detailed information on how much climate change has already influenced extreme weather and what that might mean for future warming. This helps government leaders understand whether recent disasters are a harbinger of what is to come and........

© The Conversation

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