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Quantifying the Influence of Global Warming on Unprecedented Extreme Climate EventsEfforts 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.
Document ID
20180000172
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
Authors
Diffenbaugh, Noah S. (Stanford Univ. Stanford, CA, United States)
Singh, Deepti (Stanford Univ. Stanford, CA, United States)
Mankin, Justin S. (NASA Goddard Inst. for Space Studies New York, NY, United States)
Horton, Daniel E. (Stanford Univ. Stanford, CA, United States)
Swain, Daniel L. (Stanford Univ. Stanford, CA, United States)
Touma, Danielle (Stanford Univ. Stanford, CA, United States)
Charland, Allison (Stanford Univ. Stanford, CA, United States)
Liu, Yunjie (Stanford Univ. Stanford, CA, United States)
Haugen, Matz (Stanford Univ. Stanford, CA, United States)
Tsiang, Michael (Stanford Univ. Stanford, CA, United States)
Rajaratnam, Bala (Stanford Univ. Stanford, CA, United States)
Date Acquired
January 5, 2018
Publication Date
March 10, 2017
Publication Information
Publication: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Subject Category
Meteorology and Climatology
Report/Patent Number
GSFC-E-DAA-TN42225
Distribution Limits
Public
Copyright
Other