The Attribution Question

“Did climate change have anything to do with this?”

Often in the wake of an extreme weather event, the “attribution question” gets asked. Did human-induced global warming play a role in the heat wave, rainstorms or drought?

Scientists are now able to answer this for many types of extremes. But the answer may vary depending on how the question is framed.

In new research published in Nature Climate Change, scientists with World Weather Attribution look at how different studies pose the attribution question. Lead author Dr. Friederike Otto of the Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford and her fellow researchers explain why it is important for every extreme event attribution study to clearly define the event and state the framing of the attribution question.

You’ll find links to this study and other WWA papers on our website.

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Photo: Rich Whitlow/flickr