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

Title: Methods and Model Dependency of Extreme Event Attribution: The 2015 European Drought

Abstract

Science on the role of anthropogenic influence on extreme weather events, such as heat-waves or droughts, has evolved rapidly in the past years. The approach of “event attribution” compares the occurrence-probability of an event in the present, factual climate with its probability in a hypothetical,counterfactual climate without human-induced climate change. Several methods can be used for event attribution, based on climate model simulations and observations, and usually researchers only assess a subset of methods and data sources. Here, we explore the role of methodological choices for the attribution of the 2015 meteorological summer drought in Europe. We present contradicting conclusions on the relevance of human influence as a function of the chosen data source and event attribution methodology. Assessments using the maximum number of models and counterfactual climates with pre-industrial greenhouse gas concentrations point to an enhanced drought risk in Europe. However, other evaluations show contradictory evidence. Furthermore, these results highlight the need for a multi-model and multi-method frame-work in event attribution research, especially for events with a low signal-to-noise ratio and high model dependency such as regional droughts.

Authors:
ORCiD logo [1]; ORCiD logo [1]; ORCiD logo [1];  [2];  [3];  [2]; ORCiD logo [4]; ORCiD logo [5]; ORCiD logo [1]
  1. ETH Zurich, Zurich (Switzerland)
  2. U Paris-Saclay, Gif-sur-Yvette (France)
  3. Univ. of Oxford, Oxford (United Kingdom)
  4. Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI), De Bilt (Netherlands)
  5. Univ. of Reading, Reading (United Kingdom)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States). National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
1461520
Resource Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Earth's Future
Additional Journal Information:
[ Journal Volume: 5; Journal Issue: 10]; Journal ID: ISSN 2328-4277
Publisher:
American Geophysical Union (AGU)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; event attribution; 2015 European drought; climate change

Citation Formats

Hauser, Mathias, Gudmundsson, Lukas, Orth, Rene, Jezequel, Aglae, Haustein, Karsten, Vautard, Robert, van Oldenborgh, Geert J., Wilcox, Laura, and Seneviratne, Sonia I. Methods and Model Dependency of Extreme Event Attribution: The 2015 European Drought. United States: N. p., 2017. Web. doi:10.1002/2017EF000612.
Hauser, Mathias, Gudmundsson, Lukas, Orth, Rene, Jezequel, Aglae, Haustein, Karsten, Vautard, Robert, van Oldenborgh, Geert J., Wilcox, Laura, & Seneviratne, Sonia I. Methods and Model Dependency of Extreme Event Attribution: The 2015 European Drought. United States. doi:10.1002/2017EF000612.
Hauser, Mathias, Gudmundsson, Lukas, Orth, Rene, Jezequel, Aglae, Haustein, Karsten, Vautard, Robert, van Oldenborgh, Geert J., Wilcox, Laura, and Seneviratne, Sonia I. Wed . "Methods and Model Dependency of Extreme Event Attribution: The 2015 European Drought". United States. doi:10.1002/2017EF000612. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1461520.
@article{osti_1461520,
title = {Methods and Model Dependency of Extreme Event Attribution: The 2015 European Drought},
author = {Hauser, Mathias and Gudmundsson, Lukas and Orth, Rene and Jezequel, Aglae and Haustein, Karsten and Vautard, Robert and van Oldenborgh, Geert J. and Wilcox, Laura and Seneviratne, Sonia I.},
abstractNote = {Science on the role of anthropogenic influence on extreme weather events, such as heat-waves or droughts, has evolved rapidly in the past years. The approach of “event attribution” compares the occurrence-probability of an event in the present, factual climate with its probability in a hypothetical,counterfactual climate without human-induced climate change. Several methods can be used for event attribution, based on climate model simulations and observations, and usually researchers only assess a subset of methods and data sources. Here, we explore the role of methodological choices for the attribution of the 2015 meteorological summer drought in Europe. We present contradicting conclusions on the relevance of human influence as a function of the chosen data source and event attribution methodology. Assessments using the maximum number of models and counterfactual climates with pre-industrial greenhouse gas concentrations point to an enhanced drought risk in Europe. However, other evaluations show contradictory evidence. Furthermore, these results highlight the need for a multi-model and multi-method frame-work in event attribution research, especially for events with a low signal-to-noise ratio and high model dependency such as regional droughts.},
doi = {10.1002/2017EF000612},
journal = {Earth's Future},
number = [10],
volume = [5],
place = {United States},
year = {2017},
month = {9}
}

Journal Article:
Free Publicly Available Full Text
Publisher's Version of Record

Citation Metrics:
Cited by: 15 works
Citation information provided by
Web of Science

Save / Share:

Works referenced in this record:

Aerosol contribution to the rapid warming of near-term climate under RCP 2.6: AEROSOL CONTRIBUTION TO RAPID WARMING
journal, September 2012

  • Chalmers, N.; Highwood, E. J.; Hawkins, E.
  • Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 39, Issue 18
  • DOI: 10.1029/2012GL052848

Ensemble samplers with affine invariance
journal, January 2010

  • Goodman, Jonathan; Weare, Jonathan
  • Communications in Applied Mathematics and Computational Science, Vol. 5, Issue 1
  • DOI: 10.2140/camcos.2010.5.65

The RCP greenhouse gas concentrations and their extensions from 1765 to 2300
journal, August 2011


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

Ethical and normative implications of weather event attribution for policy discussions concerning loss and damage
journal, June 2015


An event attribution of the 2010 drought in the South Amazon region using the MIROC5 model: Event attribution of the 2010 Amazon drought
journal, May 2013

  • Shiogama, Hideo; Watanabe, Masahiro; Imada, Yukiko
  • Atmospheric Science Letters, Vol. 14, Issue 3
  • DOI: 10.1002/asl2.435

Attributing human mortality during extreme heat waves to anthropogenic climate change
journal, July 2016


Decreased monsoon precipitation in the Northern Hemisphere due to anthropogenic aerosols
journal, August 2014

  • Polson, D.; Bollasina, M.; Hegerl, G. C.
  • Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 41, Issue 16
  • DOI: 10.1002/2014GL060811

The 2015 European Heat Wave
journal, December 2016

  • Dong, Buwen; Sutton, Rowan; Shaffrey, Len
  • Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, Vol. 97, Issue 12
  • DOI: 10.1175/BAMS-D-16-0140.1

Anthropogenic contributions to Australia's record summer temperatures of 2013: AUSTRALIA'S RECORD SUMMER OF 2013
journal, July 2013

  • Lewis, Sophie C.; Karoly, David J.
  • Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 40, Issue 14
  • DOI: 10.1002/grl.50673

Climate model genealogy: Generation CMIP5 and how we got there: CLIMATE MODEL GENEALOGY
journal, March 2013

  • Knutti, Reto; Masson, David; Gettelman, Andrew
  • Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 40, Issue 6
  • DOI: 10.1002/grl.50256

Liability for climate change
journal, February 2003


weather@home-development and validation of a very large ensemble modelling system for probabilistic event attribution: weather@home
journal, October 2014

  • Massey, N.; Jones, R.; Otto, F. E. L.
  • Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society, Vol. 141, Issue 690
  • DOI: 10.1002/qj.2455

Global Precipitation: A 17-Year Monthly Analysis Based on Gauge Observations, Satellite Estimates, and Numerical Model Outputs
journal, November 1997


Climate change in the Fertile Crescent and implications of the recent Syrian drought
journal, March 2015

  • Kelley, Colin P.; Mohtadi, Shahrzad; Cane, Mark A.
  • Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 112, Issue 11
  • DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1421533112

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

The 2014 Hot, Dry Summer in Northeast Asia
journal, December 2015

  • Wilcox, L. J.; Dong, B.; Sutton, R. T.
  • Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, Vol. 96, Issue 12
  • DOI: 10.1175/BAMS-D-15-00123.1

Technical Note: Downscaling RCM precipitation to the station scale using statistical transformations – a comparison of methods
journal, January 2012

  • Gudmundsson, L.; Bremnes, J. B.; Haugen, J. E.
  • Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, Vol. 16, Issue 9
  • DOI: 10.5194/hess-16-3383-2012

Factors Other Than Climate Change, Main Drivers of 2014/15 Water Shortage in Southeast Brazil
journal, December 2015

  • Otto, Friederike E. L.; Haustein, Karsten; Uhe, Peter
  • Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, Vol. 96, Issue 12
  • DOI: 10.1175/BAMS-D-15-00120.1

Hydrology needed to manage droughts: the 2015 European case: INVITED COMMENTARY
journal, April 2016

  • Van Lanen, Henny A. J.; Laaha, Gregor; Kingston, Daniel G.
  • Hydrological Processes, Vol. 30, Issue 17
  • DOI: 10.1002/hyp.10838

Global Surface Temperature Change
journal, January 2010


Systematic change in global patterns of streamflow following volcanic eruptions
journal, October 2015

  • Iles, Carley E.; Hegerl, Gabriele C.
  • Nature Geoscience, Vol. 8, Issue 11
  • DOI: 10.1038/ngeo2545

Record dry summer in 2015 challenges precipitation projections in Central Europe
journal, June 2016

  • Orth, René; Zscheischler, Jakob; Seneviratne, Sonia I.
  • Scientific Reports, Vol. 6, Issue 1
  • DOI: 10.1038/srep28334

Human influence on climate in the 2014 southern England winter floods and their impacts
journal, February 2016

  • Schaller, Nathalie; Kay, Alison L.; Lamb, Rob
  • Nature Climate Change, Vol. 6, Issue 6
  • DOI: 10.1038/nclimate2927

emcee : The MCMC Hammer
journal, March 2013

  • Foreman-Mackey, Daniel; Hogg, David W.; Lang, Dustin
  • Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, Vol. 125, Issue 925
  • DOI: 10.1086/670067

The influence of anthropogenic aerosol on multi-decadal variations of historical global climate
journal, June 2013


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

How unusual was autumn 2006 in Europe?
journal, January 2007


EURO-CORDEX: new high-resolution climate change projections for European impact research
journal, July 2013

  • Jacob, Daniela; Petersen, Juliane; Eggert, Bastian
  • Regional Environmental Change, Vol. 14, Issue 2
  • DOI: 10.1007/s10113-013-0499-2

The Role of Anthropogenic Warming in 2015 Central European Heat Waves
journal, December 2016

  • Sippel, Sebastian; Otto, Friederike E. L.; Flach, Milan
  • Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, Vol. 97, Issue 12
  • DOI: 10.1175/BAMS-D-16-0150.1

Elusive drought: uncertainty in observed trends and short- and long-term CMIP5 projections
journal, January 2013


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

Updated high-resolution grids of monthly climatic observations - the CRU TS3.10 Dataset: UPDATED HIGH-RESOLUTION GRIDS OF MONTHLY CLIMATIC OBSERVATIONS
journal, May 2013

  • Harris, I.; Jones, P. D.; Osborn, T. J.
  • International Journal of Climatology, Vol. 34, Issue 3
  • DOI: 10.1002/joc.3711

Candidate Distributions for Climatological Drought Indices (SPI and SPEI): CANDIDATE DISTRIBUTIONS FOR CLIMATOLOGICAL DROUGHT INDICES
journal, February 2015

  • Stagge, James H.; Tallaksen, Lena M.; Gudmundsson, Lukas
  • International Journal of Climatology, Vol. 35, Issue 13
  • DOI: 10.1002/joc.4267

SST and circulation trend biases cause an underestimation of European precipitation trends
journal, May 2012

  • van Haren, Ronald; van Oldenborgh, Geert Jan; Lenderink, Geert
  • Climate Dynamics, Vol. 40, Issue 1-2
  • DOI: 10.1007/s00382-012-1401-5

Anthropogenic climate change affects meteorological drought risk in Europe
journal, April 2016


Global Land Precipitation: A 50-yr Monthly Analysis Based on Gauge Observations
journal, June 2002


Robust Locally Weighted Regression and Smoothing Scatterplots
journal, December 1979


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

    Works referencing / citing this record:

    Evaluation of the HadGEM3-A simulations in view of detection and attribution of human influence on extreme events in Europe
    journal, April 2018

    • Vautard, Robert; Christidis, Nikolaos; Ciavarella, Andrew
    • Climate Dynamics, Vol. 52, Issue 1-2
    • DOI: 10.1007/s00382-018-4183-6

    Unsurprising Surprises: The Frequency of Record-breaking and Overthreshold Hydrological Extremes Under Spatial and Temporal Dependence
    journal, September 2018

    • Serinaldi, Francesco; Kilsby, Chris G.
    • Water Resources Research, Vol. 54, Issue 9
    • DOI: 10.1029/2018wr023055