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Claire Burke
and
Peter Stott

Abstract

The East Asian summer monsoon (EASM) is important for bringing rainfall to large areas of China. Historically, variations in the EASM have had major impacts including flooding and drought. The authors present an analysis of the impact of anthropogenic climate change on EASM rainfall in eastern China using a newly updated attribution system. The results suggest that anthropogenic climate change has led to an overall decrease in total monsoon rainfall over the past 65 years and an increased number of dry days. However, the model also predicts that anthropogenic forcings have caused the most extreme heavy rainfall events to become shorter in duration and more intense. With the potential for future changes in aerosol and greenhouse gas emissions, historical trends in monsoon rainfall may not be indicative of future changes, although extreme rainfall is projected to increase over East Asia with continued warming in the region.

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Nikolaos Christidis
and
Peter A. Stott

Human influence and persistent low pressure are estimated to make extreme May rainfall in the United Kingdom, as in year 2021, about 1.5 and 3.5 times more likely, respectively.

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Nikolaos Christidis
and
Peter A. Stott
Open access
Nikolaos Christidis
and
Peter A. Stott
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Nikolaos Christidis
and
Peter A. Stott

Abstract

The new Hadley Centre system for attribution of weather and climate extremes provides assessments of how human influence on the climate may lead to a change in the frequency of such events. Two different types of ensembles of simulations are generated with an atmospheric model to represent the actual climate and what the climate would have been in the absence of human influence. Estimates of the event frequency with and without the anthropogenic effect are then obtained. Three experiments conducted so far with the new system are analyzed in this study to examine how anthropogenic forcings change the odds of warm years, summers, or winters in a number of regions where the model reliably reproduces the frequency of warm events. In all cases warm events become more likely because of human influence, but estimates of the likelihood may vary considerably from year to year depending on the ocean temperature. While simulations of the actual climate use prescribed observational data of sea surface temperature and sea ice, simulations of the nonanthropogenic world also rely on coupled atmosphere–ocean models to provide boundary conditions, and this is found to introduce a major uncertainty in attribution assessments. Improved boundary conditions constructed with observational data are introduced in order to minimize this uncertainty. In more than half of the 10 cases considered here anthropogenic influence results in warm events being 3 times more likely and extreme events 5 times more likely during September 2011–August 2012, as an experiment with the new boundary conditions indicates.

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Nikolaos Christidis
and
Peter A. Stott
Free access
Nikolaos Christidis
and
Peter A. Stott
Open access
Nikolaos Christidis
and
Peter A Stott

Abstract

The response of precipitation to global warming is manifest in the strengthening of the hydrological cycle but can be complex on regional scales. Fingerprinting analyses have so far detected the effect of human influence on regional changes of precipitation extremes. Here we examine changes in seasonal precipitation in Europe since the beginning of the twentieth century and use an ensemble of new climate models to assess the role of different climatic forcings, both natural and anthropogenic. We find that human influence gives rise to a characteristic pattern of contrasting trends, with drier seasons in the Mediterranean basin and wetter over the rest of the continent. The trends are stronger in winter and weaker in summer, when drying is more spatially widespread. The anthropogenic signal is dominated by the response to greenhouse gas emissions, but is also weakened, to some extent, by the opposite effect of anthropogenic aerosols. Using a formal fingerprinting attribution methodology, we show here for the first time that the effects of the total anthropogenic forcing, and also of its greenhouse gas component, can be detected in observed changes of winter precipitation. Greenhouse gas emissions are also found to drive an increase in precipitation variability in all seasons. Moreover, the models suggest that human influence alters characteristics of seasonal extremes, with the frequency of high precipitation extremes increasing everywhere except the Mediterranean basin, where low precipitation extremes become more common. Regional attribution information contributes to the scientific basis that can help European citizens build their climate resilience.

Open access
Fraser C. Lott
and
Peter A. Stott

Abstract

Although it is critical to assess the accuracy of attribution studies, the fraction of attributable risk (FAR) cannot be directly assessed from observations since it involves the probability of an event in a world that did not happen, the “natural” world where there was no human influence on climate. Instead, reliability diagrams (usually used to compare probabilistic forecasts to the observed frequencies of events) have been used to assess climate simulations employed for attribution and by inference to evaluate the attribution study itself. The Brier score summarizes this assessment of a model by the reliability diagram. By constructing a modeling framework where the true FAR is already known, this paper shows that Brier scores are correlated to the accuracy of a climate model ensemble’s calculation of FAR, although only weakly. This weakness exists because the diagram does not account for accuracy of simulations of the natural world. This is better represented by two reliability diagrams from early and late in the period of study, which would have, respectively, less and greater anthropogenic climate forcing. Two new methods are therefore proposed for assessing the accuracy of FAR, based on using the earlier observational period as a proxy for observations of the natural world. It is found that errors from model-based estimates of these observable quantities are strongly correlated with errors in the FAR estimated in the model framework. These methods thereby provide new observational estimates of the accuracy in FAR.

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Claire Burke
,
Peter Stott
,
Andrew Ciavarella
, and
Ying Sun
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