An Updated Review of Event Attribution Approaches


  • There have been considerable high-impact extreme events occurring around the world in the context of climate change. Event attribution studies, which seek to quantitatively answer whether and to what extent anthropogenic climate change has altered the characteristics—predominantly the probability and magnitude—of particular events, have been gaining increasing interest within the research community. This paper reviews the latest approaches used in event attribution studies through a new classification into three major categories according to how the event attribution question is framed—namely, the risk-based approach, the storyline approach, and the combined approach. Four approaches in the risk-based framing category and three in the storyline framing category are also reviewed in detail. The advantages and disadvantages of each approach are discussed. Particular attention is paid to the ability, suitability, and applicability of these approaches in attributing extreme events in China, a typical monsoonal region where climate models may not perform well. Most of these approaches are applicable in China, and some are more suitable for analyzing temperature events. There is no right or wrong among these approaches, but different approaches have different framings. The uncertainties in attribution results come from several aspects, including different categories of framing, different conditions in climate model approaches, different models, different definitions of the event, and different observational data used. Clarification of these aspects can help to understand the differences in attribution results from different studies.
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