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Ruksana H. Rimi, Karsten Haustein, Myles R. Allen, and Emily J. Barbour
Open access
Geert Jan van Oldenborgh, Friederike E. L. Otto, Karsten Haustein, and Krishna AchutaRao
Full access
Michael R. Grose, Mitchell Black, James S. Risbey, Peter Uhe, Pandora K. Hope, Karsten Haustein, and Dann Mitchell
Open access
Karsten Haustein, Friederike E. L. Otto, Victor Venema, Peter Jacobs, Kevin Cowtan, Zeke Hausfather, Robert G. Way, Bethan White, Aneesh Subramanian, and Andrew P. Schurer

Abstract

The early twentieth-century warming (EW; 1910–45) and the mid-twentieth-century cooling (MC; 1950–80) have been linked to both internal variability of the climate system and changes in external radiative forcing. The degree to which either of the two factors contributed to EW and MC, or both, is still debated. Using a two-box impulse response model, we demonstrate that multidecadal ocean variability was unlikely to be the driver of observed changes in global mean surface temperature (GMST) after AD 1850. Instead, virtually all (97%–98%) of the global low-frequency variability (>30 years) can be explained by external forcing. We find similarly high percentages of explained variance for interhemispheric and land–ocean temperature evolution. Three key aspects are identified that underpin the conclusion of this new study: inhomogeneous anthropogenic aerosol forcing (AER), biases in the instrumental sea surface temperature (SST) datasets, and inadequate representation of the response to varying forcing factors. Once the spatially heterogeneous nature of AER is accounted for, the MC period is reconcilable with external drivers. SST biases and imprecise forcing responses explain the putative disagreement between models and observations during the EW period. As a consequence, Atlantic multidecadal variability (AMV) is found to be primarily controlled by external forcing too. Future attribution studies should account for these important factors when discriminating between externally forced and internally generated influences on climate. We argue that AMV must not be used as a regressor and suggest a revised AMV index instead [the North Atlantic Variability Index (NAVI)]. Our associated best estimate for the transient climate response (TCR) is 1.57 K (±0.70 at the 5%–95% confidence level).

Open access
Sjoukje Philip, Sarah F. Kew, Geert Jan van Oldenborgh, Emma Aalbers, Robert Vautard, Friederike Otto, Karsten Haustein, Florence Habets, and Roop Singh

Abstract

The extreme precipitation that resulted in historic flooding in central-northern France began 26 May 2016 and was linked to a large cutoff low. The floods caused some casualties and over a billion euros in damage. To objectively answer the question of whether anthropogenic climate change played a role, a near-real-time “rapid” attribution analysis was performed, using well-established event attribution methods, best available observational data, and as many climate simulations as possible within that time frame. This study confirms the results of the rapid attribution study. We estimate how anthropogenic climate change has affected the likelihood of exceedance of the observed amount of 3-day precipitation in April–June for the Seine and Loire basins. We find that the observed precipitation in the Seine basin was very rare, with a return period of hundreds of years. It was less rare on the Loire—roughly 1 in 20 years. We evaluated five climate model ensembles for 3-day basin-averaged precipitation extremes in April–June. The four ensembles that simulated the statistics agree well. Combining the results reduces the uncertainty and indicates that the probability of such rainfall has increased over the last century by about a factor of 2.2 (>1.4) on the Seine and 1.9 (>1.5) on the Loire due to anthropogenic emissions. These numbers are virtually the same as those in the near-real-time attribution study by van Oldenborgh et al. Together with the evaluation of the attribution of Storm Desmond by Otto et al., this shows that, for these types of events, near-real-time attribution studies are now possible.

Open access
Sjoukje Philip, Sarah F. Kew, Geert Jan van Oldenborgh, Friederike Otto, Sarah O’Keefe, Karsten Haustein, Andrew King, Abiy Zegeye, Zewdu Eshetu, Kinfe Hailemariam, Roop Singh, Eddie Jjemba, Chris Funk, and Heidi Cullen

Abstract

In northern and central Ethiopia, 2015 was a very dry year. Rainfall was only from one-half to three-quarters of the usual amount, with both the “belg” (February–May) and “kiremt” rains (June–September) affected. The timing of the rains that did fall was also erratic. Many crops failed, causing food shortages for many millions of people. The role of climate change in the probability of a drought like this is investigated, focusing on the large-scale precipitation deficit in February–September 2015 in northern and central Ethiopia. Using a gridded analysis that combines station data with satellite observations, it is estimated that the return period of this drought was more than 60 years (lower bound 95% confidence interval), with a most likely value of several hundred years. No trend is detected in the observations, but the large natural variability and short time series means large trends could go undetected in the observations. Two out of three large climate model ensembles that simulated rainfall reasonably well show no trend while the third shows an increased probability of drought. Taking the model spread into account the drought still cannot be clearly attributed to anthropogenic climate change, with the 95% confidence interval ranging from a probability decrease between preindustrial and today of a factor of 0.3 and an increase of a factor of 5 for a drought like this one or worse. A soil moisture dataset also shows a nonsignificant drying trend. According to ENSO correlations in the observations, the strong 2015 El Niño did increase the severity of the drought.

Open access
Friederike E. L. Otto, Karsten Haustein, Peter Uhe, Caio A. S. Coelho, Jose Antonio Aravequia, Waldenio Almeida, Andrew King, Erin Coughlan de Perez, Yoshihide Wada, Geert Jan van Oldenborgh, Rein Haarsma, Maarten van Aalst, and Heidi Cullen
Full access