Attribution analysis of high precipitation events in summer in England and Wales over the last decade

The crucial question in the public debate of extreme events is increasingly whether and to what extent the event has been caused by anthropogenic warming. In this study we investigate this question using extreme summer precipitation events in England and Wales as an example for probabilistic event attribution using very large ensembles of regional climate model (RCM) simulations within the project. This allows us to analyse the statistics of high precipitation events in England and Wales, a region with a high quality precipitation observational dataset. Validating the model simulations against observations shows a credible shape of the distribution of 5-day precipitation, and thus confidence in the results. While the risk of extreme July precipitation events has at least doubled due to anthropogenic climate change in the modelling framework, no significant changes can be detected for the other two summer months. This study thus highlights the challenges of probabilistic event attribution of complex weather events and identifies the need to further decompose atmospheric features responsible for an event to occur for quantitative attribution analysis.

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Journal: Climate Change