The Science Connecting Extreme Weather to Climate Change (2018)

June 2018
Climate attribution identifies and quantifies the part human-caused climate change plays in worsening many types of extreme weather.

The scientific field of "climate attribution" is most famous for research into the attribution of global average temperature increases to human influence. Climate attribution has now developed to the point where scientists are able to identify and quantify the part human-caused climate change plays in many types of extreme weather.

Over the past decade, researchers have found strong evidence showing that climate change increases the frequency and intensity of events like extreme heat and extreme rainfall from hurricanes. For other events like tornadoes or drought periods with little or no rain, the evidence is currently weaker.

Studies have also traced the influence of climate change in particular events like Hurricane Harvey and the 2003 European heat wave. Understanding the increased risks posed by climate change will help us plan for, respond to, and recover from destructive and dangerous weather.

The connection between extreme weather and climate change.

Scientific evidence for connections between extreme weather events and climate change is stronger for some types of events than for others. Strong evidence exists to connect events to the right of the line break to climate change. Evidence is currently weak or growing for events to the left of the break.
USGCRP 2017; IPCC 2014.

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