Workshop to Address Climate Attribution Science, Uses and Communication

August 25, 2010

people at workshop
Photo credit: Will von Dauster, NOAA

NOAA and the International Group on Attribution of Climate-Related Events (ACE) convened a workshop that addressed the science, potential uses, and communication of climate attribution information. The workshop was held 17-18 August 2010 in Broomfield, CO and provided a forum to discuss opportunities and requirements for explaining evolving climate conditions and extreme events. Approximately 50 participants in the physical sciences and science communication addressed the major science challenges for attribution and the products and information needs related to them. Major outcomes include consensus that: attribution activities require enhanced collaboration with many partners; because extreme climate events attract public attention, an explanation is imperative; responses must be timely, scientifically sound and effectively communicated to be useful for decision making and to avoid inaccurate speculation.

Climate attribution is a scientific process for establishing the principal causes or physical explanation for observed climate conditions and phenomena. This includes attribution of the causes for observed climate variations that may not be unusual in a statistical sense but for which great public interest exists because they produce profound societal impacts.

Extreme events such as heat waves, floods, and wildfires have impacts on people, property, and resources around the world. Decision makers and the general public want to know the causes of these events, and the likelihood of their recurrence. NOAA researchers are coordinating efforts with internal and external partners to provide timely and scientifically sound explanations of extreme events. This understanding will also help to improve projections of future climate, contribute to early warning systems, and help educate the public about future climate change.

Contact: Marty Hoerling More Information: