skip to main content
DOE PAGES title logo U.S. Department of Energy
Office of Scientific and Technical Information

Title: Quantifying the influence of global warming on unprecedented extreme climate events

Abstract

Efforts to understand the influence of historical global warming on individual extreme climate events have increased over the past decade. However, despite substantial progress, events that are unprecedented in the local observational record remain a persistent challenge. Leveraging observations and a large climate model ensemble, we quantify uncertainty in the influence of global warming on the severity and probability of the historically hottest month, hottest day, driest year, and wettest 5-d period for different areas of the globe. We find that historical warming has increased the severity and probability of the hottest month and hottest day of the year at >80% of the available observational area. Our framework also suggests that the historical climate forcing has increased the probability of the driest year and wettest 5-d period at 57% and 41% of the observed area, respectively, although we note important caveats. For the most protracted hot and dry events, the strongest and most widespread contributions of anthropogenic climate forcing occur in the tropics, including increases in probability of at least a factor of 4 for the hottest month and at least a factor of 2 for the driest year. We also demonstrate the ability of our framework to systematically evaluatemore » the role of dynamic and thermodynamic factors such as atmospheric circulation patterns and atmospheric water vapor, and find extremely high statistical confidence that anthropogenic forcing increased the probability of record-low Arctic sea ice extent.« less

Authors:
ORCiD logo; ; ORCiD logo; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;
Publication Date:
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
1353130
Grant/Contract Number:  
SC005171DE-SC005171
Resource Type:
Published Article
Journal Name:
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Name: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America Journal Volume: 114 Journal Issue: 19; Journal ID: ISSN 0027-8424
Publisher:
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English

Citation Formats

Diffenbaugh, Noah S., Singh, Deepti, Mankin, Justin S., Horton, Daniel E., Swain, Daniel L., Touma, Danielle, Charland, Allison, Liu, Yunjie, Haugen, Matz, Tsiang, Michael, and Rajaratnam, Bala. Quantifying the influence of global warming on unprecedented extreme climate events. United States: N. p., 2017. Web. doi:10.1073/pnas.1618082114.
Diffenbaugh, Noah S., Singh, Deepti, Mankin, Justin S., Horton, Daniel E., Swain, Daniel L., Touma, Danielle, Charland, Allison, Liu, Yunjie, Haugen, Matz, Tsiang, Michael, & Rajaratnam, Bala. Quantifying the influence of global warming on unprecedented extreme climate events. United States. doi:10.1073/pnas.1618082114.
Diffenbaugh, Noah S., Singh, Deepti, Mankin, Justin S., Horton, Daniel E., Swain, Daniel L., Touma, Danielle, Charland, Allison, Liu, Yunjie, Haugen, Matz, Tsiang, Michael, and Rajaratnam, Bala. Mon . "Quantifying the influence of global warming on unprecedented extreme climate events". United States. doi:10.1073/pnas.1618082114.
@article{osti_1353130,
title = {Quantifying the influence of global warming on unprecedented extreme climate events},
author = {Diffenbaugh, Noah S. and Singh, Deepti and Mankin, Justin S. and Horton, Daniel E. and Swain, Daniel L. and Touma, Danielle and Charland, Allison and Liu, Yunjie and Haugen, Matz and Tsiang, Michael and Rajaratnam, Bala},
abstractNote = {Efforts to understand the influence of historical global warming on individual extreme climate events have increased over the past decade. However, despite substantial progress, events that are unprecedented in the local observational record remain a persistent challenge. Leveraging observations and a large climate model ensemble, we quantify uncertainty in the influence of global warming on the severity and probability of the historically hottest month, hottest day, driest year, and wettest 5-d period for different areas of the globe. We find that historical warming has increased the severity and probability of the hottest month and hottest day of the year at >80% of the available observational area. Our framework also suggests that the historical climate forcing has increased the probability of the driest year and wettest 5-d period at 57% and 41% of the observed area, respectively, although we note important caveats. For the most protracted hot and dry events, the strongest and most widespread contributions of anthropogenic climate forcing occur in the tropics, including increases in probability of at least a factor of 4 for the hottest month and at least a factor of 2 for the driest year. We also demonstrate the ability of our framework to systematically evaluate the role of dynamic and thermodynamic factors such as atmospheric circulation patterns and atmospheric water vapor, and find extremely high statistical confidence that anthropogenic forcing increased the probability of record-low Arctic sea ice extent.},
doi = {10.1073/pnas.1618082114},
journal = {Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America},
number = 19,
volume = 114,
place = {United States},
year = {2017},
month = {4}
}

Journal Article:
Free Publicly Available Full Text
Publisher's Version of Record
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1618082114

Citation Metrics:
Cited by: 10 works
Citation information provided by
Web of Science

Save / Share:

Works referenced in this record:

Observational and model evidence of global emergence of permanent, unprecedented heat in the 20th and 21st centuries: A letter
journal, June 2011


A decade of weather extremes
journal, March 2012


Detection and attribution of climate extremes in the observed record
journal, March 2016

  • Easterling, David R.; Kunkel, Kenneth E.; Wehner, Michael F.
  • Weather and Climate Extremes, Vol. 11
  • DOI: 10.1016/j.wace.2016.01.001

Framing the way to relate climate extremes to climate change
journal, March 2012


Does Global Warming Influence Tornado Activity?
journal, January 2008

  • Diffenbaugh, Noah S.; Trapp, Robert J.; Brooks, Harold
  • Eos, Transactions American Geophysical Union, Vol. 89, Issue 53
  • DOI: 10.1029/2008EO530001

Rapid attribution of the May/June 2016 flood-inducing precipitation in France and Germany to climate change
journal, June 2016

  • van Oldenborgh, Geert Jan; Philip, Sjoukje; Aalbers, Emma
  • Hydrology and Earth System Sciences Discussions
  • DOI: 10.5194/hess-2016-308

An Overview of CMIP5 and the Experiment Design
journal, April 2012

  • Taylor, Karl E.; Stouffer, Ronald J.; Meehl, Gerald A.
  • Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, Vol. 93, Issue 4
  • DOI: 10.1175/BAMS-D-11-00094.1

Assessing mid-latitude dynamics in extreme event attribution systems
journal, August 2016


Global Land-Based Datasets for Monitoring Climatic Extremes
journal, July 2013

  • Donat, M. G.; Alexander, L. V.; Yang, H.
  • Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, Vol. 94, Issue 7
  • DOI: 10.1175/BAMS-D-12-00109.1

Comparison of methods: Attributing the 2014 record European temperatures to human influences: COMPARING ATTRIBUTION, EUROPE 2014 TEMPERATURE
journal, August 2016

  • Uhe, P.; Otto, F. E. L.; Haustein, K.
  • Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 43, Issue 16
  • DOI: 10.1002/2016GL069568

Attribution of climate extreme events
journal, June 2015

  • Trenberth, Kevin E.; Fasullo, John T.; Shepherd, Theodore G.
  • Nature Climate Change, Vol. 5, Issue 8
  • DOI: 10.1038/nclimate2657

Grey swan tropical cyclones
journal, August 2015


Inferring the anthropogenic contribution to local temperature extremes
journal, March 2013

  • Stone, D. A.; Paciorek, C. J.
  • Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 110, Issue 17
  • DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1221461110

Reconciling justice and attribution research to advance climate policy
journal, September 2016

  • Huggel, Christian; Wallimann-Helmer, Ivo; Stone, Dáithí
  • Nature Climate Change, Vol. 6, Issue 10
  • DOI: 10.1038/nclimate3104

Communication of the role of natural variability in future North American climate
journal, October 2012

  • Deser, Clara; Knutti, Reto; Solomon, Susan
  • Nature Climate Change, Vol. 2, Issue 11
  • DOI: 10.1038/nclimate1562

Increase of extreme events in a warming world
journal, October 2011

  • Rahmstorf, S.; Coumou, D.
  • Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 108, Issue 44
  • DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1101766108

Anthropogenic warming has increased drought risk in California
journal, March 2015

  • Diffenbaugh, Noah S.; Swain, Daniel L.; Touma, Danielle
  • Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 112, Issue 13
  • DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1422385112

Contribution of changes in atmospheric circulation patterns to extreme temperature trends
journal, June 2015

  • Horton, Daniel E.; Johnson, Nathaniel C.; Singh, Deepti
  • Nature, Vol. 522, Issue 7557
  • DOI: 10.1038/nature14550

The Community Earth System Model (CESM) Large Ensemble Project: A Community Resource for Studying Climate Change in the Presence of Internal Climate Variability
journal, August 2015

  • Kay, J. E.; Deser, C.; Phillips, A.
  • Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, Vol. 96, Issue 8
  • DOI: 10.1175/BAMS-D-13-00255.1

Anthropogenic greenhouse gas contribution to flood risk in England and Wales in autumn 2000
journal, February 2011

  • Pall, Pardeep; Aina, Tolu; Stone, Dáithí A.
  • Nature, Vol. 470, Issue 7334
  • DOI: 10.1038/nature09762

Insurance in a Climate of Change
journal, August 2005


Anthropogenic contribution to global occurrence of heavy-precipitation and high-temperature extremes
journal, April 2015


Observed changes in extreme wet and dry spells during the South Asian summer monsoon season
journal, April 2014

  • Singh, Deepti; Tsiang, Michael; Rajaratnam, Bala
  • Nature Climate Change, Vol. 4, Issue 6
  • DOI: 10.1038/nclimate2208

Reconciling two approaches to attribution of the 2010 Russian heat wave: RUSSIAN HEAT WAVE 2010
journal, February 2012

  • Otto, F. E. L.; Massey, N.; van Oldenborgh, G. J.
  • Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 39, Issue 4
  • DOI: 10.1029/2011GL050422

An Independent Assessment of Anthropogenic Attribution Statements for Recent Extreme Temperature and Rainfall Events
journal, January 2017


Attributing physical and biological impacts to anthropogenic climate change
journal, May 2008

  • Rosenzweig, Cynthia; Karoly, David; Vicarelli, Marta
  • Nature, Vol. 453, Issue 7193
  • DOI: 10.1038/nature06937

Was there a basis for anticipating the 2010 Russian heat wave?: THE 2010 RUSSIAN HEAT WAVE
journal, March 2011

  • Dole, Randall; Hoerling, Martin; Perlwitz, Judith
  • Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 38, Issue 6
  • DOI: 10.1029/2010GL046582

The potential for snow to supply human water demand in the present and future
journal, November 2015


GPCC's new land surface precipitation climatology based on quality-controlled in situ data and its role in quantifying the global water cycle
journal, March 2013

  • Schneider, Udo; Becker, Andreas; Finger, Peter
  • Theoretical and Applied Climatology, Vol. 115, Issue 1-2
  • DOI: 10.1007/s00704-013-0860-x

Climate Extremes: Observations, Modeling, and Impacts
journal, September 2000


NOAA's Merged Land–Ocean Surface Temperature Analysis
journal, November 2012

  • Vose, Russell S.; Arndt, Derek; Banzon, Viva F.
  • Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, Vol. 93, Issue 11
  • DOI: 10.1175/BAMS-D-11-00241.1

Real-time extreme weather event attribution with forecast seasonal SSTs
journal, June 2016


A Common Framework for Approaches to Extreme Event Attribution
journal, February 2016


Quantifying the Role of Internal Climate Variability in Future Climate Trends
journal, August 2015

  • Thompson, David W. J.; Barnes, Elizabeth A.; Deser, Clara
  • Journal of Climate, Vol. 28, Issue 16
  • DOI: 10.1175/JCLI-D-14-00830.1

Extreme High-Temperature Events: Changes in their probabilities with Changes in Mean Temperature
journal, December 1984


Recent amplification of the North American winter temperature dipole: TRENDS IN NORTH AMERICAN DIPOLE EXTREMES
journal, September 2016

  • Singh, Deepti; Swain, Daniel L.; Mankin, Justin S.
  • Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, Vol. 121, Issue 17
  • DOI: 10.1002/2016JD025116

The End-to-End Attribution Problem: From Emissions to Impacts
journal, August 2005


Volcanic contribution to decadal changes in tropospheric temperature
journal, February 2014

  • Santer, Benjamin D.; Bonfils, Céline; Painter, Jeffrey F.
  • Nature Geoscience, Vol. 7, Issue 3
  • DOI: 10.1038/ngeo2098

The attribution question
journal, August 2016

  • Otto, Friederike E. L.; van Oldenborgh, Geert Jan; Eden, Jonathan
  • Nature Climate Change, Vol. 6, Issue 9
  • DOI: 10.1038/nclimate3089

Fast-track attribution assessments based on pre-computed estimates of changes in the odds of warm extremes
journal, November 2014

  • Christidis, Nikolaos; Stott, Peter A.; Zwiers, Francis W.
  • Climate Dynamics, Vol. 45, Issue 5-6
  • DOI: 10.1007/s00382-014-2408-x

Attribution of extreme weather and climate-related events: Attribution of extreme weather and climate-related events
journal, December 2015

  • Stott, Peter A.; Christidis, Nikolaos; Otto, Friederike E. L.
  • Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change, Vol. 7, Issue 1
  • DOI: 10.1002/wcc.380

Estimating changes in temperature extremes from millennial-scale climate simulations using generalized extreme value (GEV) distributions
journal, January 2016

  • Huang, Whitney K.; Stein, Michael L.; McInerney, David J.
  • Advances in Statistical Climatology, Meteorology and Oceanography, Vol. 2, Issue 1
  • DOI: 10.5194/ascmo-2-79-2016

Precipitation Extremes Under Climate Change
journal, April 2015


Trends in atmospheric patterns conducive to seasonal precipitation and temperature extremes in California
journal, April 2016

  • Swain, Daniel L.; Horton, Daniel E.; Singh, Deepti
  • Science Advances, Vol. 2, Issue 4
  • DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1501344

The NCEP/NCAR 40-Year Reanalysis Project
journal, March 1996


Stationarity Is Dead: Whither Water Management?
journal, February 2008


Monitoring and Understanding Changes in Heat Waves, Cold Waves, Floods, and Droughts in the United States: State of Knowledge
journal, June 2013

  • Peterson, Thomas C.; Heim, Richard R.; Hirsch, Robert
  • Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, Vol. 94, Issue 6
  • DOI: 10.1175/BAMS-D-12-00066.1

Climate extremes indices in the CMIP5 multimodel ensemble: Part 1. Model evaluation in the present climate: CLIMATE EXTREMES INDICES IN CMIP5
journal, February 2013

  • Sillmann, J.; Kharin, V. V.; Zhang, X.
  • Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, Vol. 118, Issue 4
  • DOI: 10.1002/jgrd.50203

Human contribution to the European heatwave of 2003
journal, December 2004

  • Stott, Peter A.; Stone, D. A.; Allen, M. R.
  • Nature, Vol. 432, Issue 7017
  • DOI: 10.1038/nature03089