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Heatwaves, wildfires, and other extreme weather events – how much is climate change to blame?

For a long time, climate scientists have struggled to link extreme weather events to climate change. This has changed.

The science of weather event attribution is now beginning to show the true costs and impacts that human-caused climate change is having today.

This fast-growing body of research aims to disentangle the various drivers of extreme weather events from human-induced climate change and the best assessments can provide valuable information in insuring against loss and damage, funding adaptation measures, and litigating against polluters.

Researchers say extreme weather events linked to climate change do not receive enough attention, but there are limitations to what has been evidenced so far.

Journalists came to this briefing to find out:

  • What does the science say about heatwaves, heavy rainfall, drought, wildfire, tropical cyclones?
  • How many deaths and trillions of dollars of damages are attributable to climate change?
  • Why can some geographic regions not be consistently analysed?
  • Which extreme weather events are being incorrectly attributed to climate change?

And to hear from the authors of the most comprehensive review of extreme weather attribution science to date, released on 28 June in the first issue of Environmental Research: Climate, a new open access academic journal published by IOP Publishing, devoted to addressing the causes, consequences and solutions of climate variability and change.


Speakers included:

Dr Friederike (Fredi) Otto, Senior Lecturer at the Grantham Institute – Climate Change and the Environment at Imperial College London, and leader of World Weather Attribution

Dr Luke Harrington, Senior Research Fellow in Climate Science at the New Zealand Climate Change Research Institute (NZCCRI) at Victoria University of Wellington


This briefing was accompanied by an SMC Roundup of Comments.

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