On the Attribution of a Single Event to Climate Change

Gerrit Hansen Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Potsdam, Germany

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Maximilian Auffhammer Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, California, and National Bureau of Economic Research, Cambridge, Massachusetts

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Andrew R. Solow Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, Massachusetts

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Abstract

There is growing interest in assessing the role of climate change in observed extreme weather events. Recent work in this area has focused on estimating a measure called attributable risk. A statistical formulation of this problem is described and used to construct a confidence interval for attributable risk. The resulting confidence is shown to be surprisingly wide even in the case where the event of interest is unprecedented in the historical record.

Corresponding author address: Gerrit Hansen, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Research Domain 1, Telegrafenberg A26, 14473 Potsdam, Germany. E-mail: hansen@pik-potsdam.de

Abstract

There is growing interest in assessing the role of climate change in observed extreme weather events. Recent work in this area has focused on estimating a measure called attributable risk. A statistical formulation of this problem is described and used to construct a confidence interval for attributable risk. The resulting confidence is shown to be surprisingly wide even in the case where the event of interest is unprecedented in the historical record.

Corresponding author address: Gerrit Hansen, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Research Domain 1, Telegrafenberg A26, 14473 Potsdam, Germany. E-mail: hansen@pik-potsdam.de
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