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Attributing extreme weather events to AGW

Seen on the European Tribune blog:

Nature

Interest in attributing the risk of damaging weather-related events to anthropogenic climate change is increasing. Yet climate models used to study the attribution problem typically do not resolve the weather systems associated with damaging events such as the UK floods of October and November 2000. Occurring during the wettest autumn in England and Wales since records began in 1766, these floods damaged nearly 10,000 properties across that region, disrupted services severely, and caused insured losses estimated at £1.3 billion. [...] Here we present a multi-step, physically based ‘probabilistic event attribution’ framework showing that it is very likely that global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions substantially increased the risk of flood occurrence in England and Wales in autumn 2000.

Also from Nature

Here we show that human-induced increases in greenhouse gases have contributed to the observed intensification of heavy precipitation events found over approximately two-thirds of data-covered parts of Northern Hemisphere land areas. […] Changes in extreme precipitation projected by models, and thus the impacts of future changes in extreme precipitation, may be underestimated because models seem to underestimate the observed increase in heavy precipitation with warming.

Any expert critique of these results? Do the methods or the results fit in the wiki?

Comments

  • 1.

    I don't have access to Nature and tend to consider Nature as a mainstream media journal and not a journal where original scientific work is published for the first time, so: Is there a freely available paper or several papers that the Nature article is based upon? If yes, I'd rather include those on the Wiki instead.

    Comment Source:I don't have access to Nature and tend to consider Nature as a mainstream media journal and not a journal where original scientific work is published for the first time, so: Is there a freely available paper or several papers that the Nature article is based upon? If yes, I'd rather include those on the Wiki instead.
  • 2.

    I don't have access to Nature and tend to consider Nature as a mainstream media journal and not a journal where original scientific work is published for the first time

    Really? Nature is considered one of the most prestigious scientific journals in the world in many fields, including climate science. If you go by impact factors, they claim to have the highest of any basic science journal. Often young biological scientists talk about vying for a "CNS" publication (i.e., a publication in one of the three journals Cell, Nature, or Science) as the one that will "make their career".

    Nature does publish perspective and news pieces too, but they definitely publish peer reviewed scientific research.

    Is there a freely available paper or several papers that the Nature article is based upon?

    The linked Nature articles are the scientific papers. Hence phrases like "Here we show ..."

    Comment Source:>I don't have access to Nature and tend to consider Nature as a mainstream media journal and not a journal where original scientific work is published for the first time Really? Nature is considered one of the most prestigious scientific journals in the world in many fields, including climate science. If you go by impact factors, they claim to have the highest of any basic science journal. Often young biological scientists talk about vying for a "CNS" publication (i.e., a publication in one of the three journals Cell, Nature, or Science) as the one that will "make their career". Nature does publish perspective and news pieces too, but they definitely publish peer reviewed scientific research. >Is there a freely available paper or several papers that the Nature article is based upon? The linked Nature articles are the scientific papers. Hence phrases like "Here we show ..."
  • 3.
    Comment Source:FWIW this is [mentioned in a post on realcimate.org](http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2011/02/going-to-extremes/).
  • 4.
    edited February 2011

    Tim wrote:

    I don't have access to Nature and tend to consider Nature as a mainstream media journal and not a journal where original scientific work is published for the first time...

    Nature and Science are the two most prestigious English-language journals in which original scientific work is published for the first time. I'm not saying that they're best, just the most prestigious. In a wide variety of scientific fields, if you have a really exciting result, you try to publish it in Nature or Science.

    (Two fields for this is not true are mathematics and many parts of theoretical physics.)

    These journals are famously effective at preventing researchers from making their papers freely available, especially before the journal article is published, but also afterwards.

    (This means that they don't accept any papers on the arXiv, which probably explains my previous parenthetical remark.)

    Important papers from these journals tend to become freely available on the internet eventually, in a (ahem) informal way, but these papers may be too new to read without access to the journal. I'll see.

    Comment Source:Tim wrote: > I don't have access to Nature and tend to consider Nature as a mainstream media journal and not a journal where original scientific work is published for the first time... _Nature_ and _Science_ are the two most prestigious English-language journals in which original scientific work is published for the first time. I'm not saying that they're best, just the most prestigious. In a wide variety of scientific fields, if you have a really exciting result, you try to publish it in _Nature_ or _Science_. (Two fields for this is not true are mathematics and many parts of theoretical physics.) These journals are famously effective at preventing researchers from making their papers freely available, especially before the journal article is published, but also afterwards. (This means that they don't accept any papers on the arXiv, which probably explains my previous parenthetical remark.) Important papers from these journals tend to become freely available on the internet eventually, in a (ahem) informal way, but these papers may be too new to read without access to the journal. I'll see.
  • 5.
    edited February 2011

    I can't find the first paper for free on the internet:

    • Pardeep Pall, Tolu Aina, Dáithí Stone, Peter Stott, Toru Nozawa, Arno Hilberts, Dag Lohmann, and Myles Allen, Anthropogenic greenhouse gas contribution to flood risk in England and Wales in autumn 2000, Nature 470 (17 February 2011), 382–385.

    However, the supplementary online information is free and interesting. It begins:

    A popular simple thermodynamic argument assumes precipitation extremes are constrained to change with the water vapour capacity of the atmosphere that can be determined, under conditions of constant relative humidity, using change in mean surface temperature alone according to the Clausius-Clapeyron relation38. This argument is typically invoked in the aftermath of floods as an explanation for possible increases in such severe wet events under an anthropogenically warming climate.

    While this is an oversimplified treatment not fully accounting for the complex hydrometeorology typically associated with UK flooding, it may nevertheless provide a physically plausible first guess of increases in mid-latitude precipitation extremes under warming. Indeed, a recently updated analysis of observed atmospheric column water vapour for past decades finds increasing trends over the UK and western Europe, and a significant autumnal increase more generally over Europe and the Northern Hemisphere; and this appears in agreement with a similar analysis finding increases in observed atmospheric humidity under warming for these regions that are within expected moistening rates for near-constant relative humidity.This latter analysis in particular appears broadly consistent with observations of Clausius-Clapeyron scale increases in surface specific humidity (the principle source for the free-troposphere) under warming over past decades, again with near-constant relative humidity – including for an European region incorporating the UK. Since these surface specific humidity increases have been attributed to mainly anthropogenic drivers, this lends support to a thermodynamic mechanism for increasing UK precipitation, and hence flooding, under anthropogenic warming.

    Here we use this thermodynamic argument to deduce the reduction in observed England and Wales total daily precipitation extremes for an autumn 2000 climate, had estimated twentieth-century surface warming attributable to anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions not occurred. Then regarding this reduction in precipitation extremes as a direct measure of reduction in flooding, we calculate the fraction of attributable risk (FAR) of these extremes, and compare it to the FAR of autumn 2000 flooding explicitly modelled in terms of severe daily river runoff using our more rigorous multi-step probabilistic event attribution (PEA) framework of the main text.

    This related abstract is also available:

    Comment Source:I can't find the first paper for free on the internet: * Pardeep Pall, Tolu Aina, Dáithí Stone, Peter Stott, Toru Nozawa, Arno Hilberts, Dag Lohmann, and Myles Allen, Anthropogenic greenhouse gas contribution to flood risk in England and Wales in autumn 2000, _[Nature](http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v470/n7334/full/nature09762.html)_ **470** (17 February 2011), 382–385. However, the [supplementary online information](http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v470/n7334/extref/nature09762-s1.pdf) is free and interesting. It begins: > A popular simple thermodynamic argument assumes precipitation extremes are constrained to change with the water vapour capacity of the atmosphere that can be determined, under conditions of constant relative humidity, using change in mean surface temperature alone according to the Clausius-Clapeyron relation38. This argument is typically invoked in the aftermath of floods as an explanation for possible increases in such severe wet events under an anthropogenically warming climate. > While this is an oversimplified treatment not fully accounting for the complex hydrometeorology typically associated with UK flooding, it may nevertheless provide a physically plausible first guess of increases in mid-latitude precipitation extremes under warming. Indeed, a recently updated analysis of observed atmospheric column water vapour for past decades finds increasing trends over the UK and western Europe, and a significant autumnal increase more generally over Europe and the Northern Hemisphere; and this appears in agreement with a similar analysis finding increases in observed atmospheric humidity under warming for these regions that are within expected moistening rates for near-constant relative humidity.This latter analysis in particular appears broadly consistent with observations of Clausius-Clapeyron scale increases in surface specific humidity (the principle source for the free-troposphere) under warming over past decades, again with near-constant relative humidity – including for an European region incorporating the UK. Since these surface specific humidity increases have been attributed to mainly anthropogenic drivers, this lends support to a thermodynamic mechanism for increasing UK precipitation, and hence flooding, under anthropogenic warming. > Here we use this thermodynamic argument to deduce the reduction in observed England and Wales total daily precipitation extremes for an autumn 2000 climate, had estimated twentieth-century surface warming attributable to anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions not occurred. Then regarding this reduction in precipitation extremes as a direct measure of reduction in flooding, we calculate the fraction of attributable risk (FAR) of these extremes, and compare it to the FAR of autumn 2000 flooding explicitly modelled in terms of severe daily river runoff using our more rigorous multi-step probabilistic event attribution (PEA) framework of the main text. This related abstract is also available: * Pardeep Pall, Tolu Aina, Dáithí Stone, Peter Stott, Toru Nozawa, Arno Hilberts, Dag Lohmann, and Myles Allen, [Anthropogenic greenhouse gas contribution to UK autumn flood risk](http://meetingorganizer.copernicus.org/EGU2010/EGU2010-12930.pdf), _Geophysical Research Abstracts_ **12**, EGU2010-12930, 2010.
  • 6.
    edited February 2011

    The second paper Miguel mentioned is:

    • Seung-Ki Min, Xuebin Zhang, Francis W. Zwiers and Gabriele C. Hegerl, Human contribution to more-intense precipitation extremes, Nature 470 (17 February 2011), 378-381.

    I can't find it for free online, but there's a discussion of it here:

    Needless to say, I'll put all these links and quotes here onto Azimuth Project. This is exactly the sort of stuff we want there! We won't, of course, claim these papers are "true": we just want to make this sort of published material easier to find.

    But where? We may need a page on flooding, or precipitation...

    Comment Source:The second paper Miguel mentioned is: * Seung-Ki Min, Xuebin Zhang, Francis W. Zwiers and Gabriele C. Hegerl, Human contribution to more-intense precipitation extremes, _[Nature](http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v470/n7334/full/nature09763.html)_ **470** (17 February 2011), 378-381. I can't find it for free online, but there's a discussion of it here: * Alyson Kenward, [Scientists Identify Human Connection to Precipitation Extremes](http://www.climatecentral.org/news/human-connection-to-precipitation-extremes-studies-say/), <i>Climate Central</i>, 16 February 2011. Needless to say, I'll put all these links and quotes here onto Azimuth Project. This is exactly the sort of stuff we want there! We won't, of course, claim these papers are "true": we just want to make this sort of published material easier to find. But where? We may need a page on flooding, or precipitation...
  • 7.
    edited February 2011

    These journals are famously effective at preventing researchers from making their papers freely available, especially before the journal article is published, but also afterwards.

    That's a bit unfair to Nature. I don't know about Science. Nature encourages authors to archive their papers elsewhere 6 months after they are published. There is also Nature Precedings, which is kind of like arXiv for the areas of science that Nature covers. And you can put preprints on Nature Precedings then publish in any Nature journals.

    Comment Source:> These journals are famously effective at preventing researchers from making their papers freely available, especially before the journal article is published, but also afterwards. That's a bit unfair to Nature. I don't know about Science. Nature encourages authors to archive their papers elsewhere 6 months after they are published. There is also [Nature Precedings](http://precedings.nature.com/), which is kind of like arXiv for the areas of science that Nature covers. And you can put preprints on Nature Precedings then publish in any Nature journals.
  • 8.

    Alright then, I say: We should link to the Nature papers on the Wiki, and supplement these links with links to free online versions once they become available. Since a friendly elf has provided me with the papers, I'll be able to participate in any discussions of their content :-)

    Comment Source:Alright then, I say: We should link to the Nature papers on the Wiki, and supplement these links with links to free online versions once they become available. Since a friendly elf has provided me with the papers, I'll be able to participate in any discussions of their content :-)
  • 9.
    edited February 2011

    Good I already have some refs :-) I know how important they are. At the first computer job I had - mid 80s -I shared room with an US guy who luckily for me subscribed to both, stacked them year after year. But I think they have propped up scientific research for too long and also recognize that they are trying to limit this but i wonder how much is green washing. I know that Willam Stein got rights from Springer, too publish his book on Computational Number Theory on the web after one year.

    Comment Source:Good I already have some refs :-) I know how important they are. At the first computer job I had - mid 80s -I shared room with an US guy who luckily for me subscribed to both, stacked them year after year. But I think they have propped up scientific research for too long and also recognize that they are trying to limit this but i wonder how much is green washing. I know that Willam Stein got rights from Springer, too publish his book on Computational Number Theory on the web after one year.
  • 10.

    John wrote:

    Needless to say, I'll put all these links and quotes here onto Azimuth Project...

    Well, it took a while, but I put them in a new page

    Possible effects of global warming

    Comment Source:John wrote: > Needless to say, I'll put all these links and quotes here onto Azimuth Project... Well, it took a while, but I put them in a new page [[Possible effects of global warming]]
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