Student Seminar

Quantifying the influence of global warming on extreme climate events

Friday, 24 November 2017 12:00PM PST
Student Seminar
Emma Lathouwers
SFU Physics
Quantifying the influence of global warming on extreme climate events
Nov 24, 2017 at 12PM


Global warming has been a hot topic for over a few decades, and the majority of scientist agree that human influence has been the dominant cause [1]. Yet, there are still many questions surrounding this many-faceted, complex topic. More recently, there has been increasing interest in the possible connections between global warming and individual extreme climate events, because they pose acute dangers to people across the globe and continued global warming is likely to give rise to unprecedented events in the future.
The paper I will discuss addresses the effects of global warming on individual events using both observations and climate models [2]. The influence of global warming on four variables that quantify extremes are analyzed: the hottest month, hottest day, driest year, and wettest five-day period. The authors extend methods for the analysis of local events to a more general, global context to provide a systematic evaluation of extreme events. They conclude that their method can quantify the increased probability and severity of extreme events due to global warming, and it could be used to quantify possible unprecedented events. Finally, they stress the importance of understanding the physical causes of individual events.

[1] Pachauri, Rajendra K., et al. Climate change 2014: synthesis report. Contribution of Working Groups I, II and III to the fifth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. IPCC, 2014.
[2] Diffenbaugh, Noah S., et al. "Quantifying the influence of global warming on unprecedented extreme climate events." PNAS 114.19 (2017): 4881-4886.