Explaining extreme events of 2012 from a climate perspective

Thomas C. Peterson, Martin P. Hoerling, Peter A. Stott, Stephanie C. Herring, David Barriopedro, Mitchell T. Black, Trevor Carey-Smith, Rodrigo Castillo, Julien Cattiaux, Xiaolong Chen, Xianyan Chen, Matthieu Chevallier, Nikolaos Christidis, Andrew Ciavarella, Hylke de Vries, Sam M. Dean, Kirsten Deans, Noah S. Diffenbaugh, Francisco Doblas-Reyes, Markus G. DonatBuwen Dong, Gary Eilerts, Chris Funk, Gideon Galu, Ricardo Garcia-Herrera, Agathe Germe, Stephen Gill, Luis Gimeno, Virginie Guemas, Andrew Hoell, Chris Huntingford, Yukiko Imada, Greg Husak, Masayoshi Ishii, David J. Karoly, Masahide Kimoto, Andrew D. King, Thomas R. Knutson, Sophie C. Lewis, Renping Lin, Bradfield Lyon, Neil Massey, Edoardo Mazza, Joel Michaelsen, James Mollard, Masato Mori, Philip W. Mote, Raquel Nieto, Friederike E.L. Otto, Joseph Park, Sarah E. Perkins, Suzanne Rosier, James Rowland, David E. Rupp, David Salas y Melia, Martin Scherer, Hideo Shiogama, Shraddhanand Shukla, Fengfei Song, Sarah Sparrow, Rowan Sutton, William Sweet, Simon F.B. Tett, Ricardo Machado Trigo, Geert Jan van Oldenborgh, Rudolf van Westrhenen, James Verdin, Masahiro Watanabe, Andrew T. Wittenberg, Tim Woollings, Pascal Yiou, Fanrong Zeng, Rong Zhang, Tianjun Zhou

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

177 Citations (Scopus)


Attribution of extreme events is a challenging science and one that is currently undergoing considerable evolution. In this paper are 19 analyses by 18 different research groups, often using quite different methodologies, of 12 extreme events that occurred in 2012. In addition to investigating the causes of these extreme events, the multiple analyses of four of the events, the high temperatures in the United States, the record low levels of Arctic sea ice, and the heavy rain in northern Europe and eastern Australia, provide an opportunity to compare and contrast the strengths and weaknesses of the various methodologies. The differences also provide insights into the structural uncertainty of event attribution, that is, the uncertainty that arises directly from the differences in analysis methodology. In these cases, there was considerable agreement between the different assessments of the same event. However, different events had very different causes. Approximately half the analyses found some evidence that anthropogenically caused climate change was a contributing factor to the extreme event examined, though the effects of natural fluctuations of weather and climate on the evolution of many of the extreme events played key roles as well.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S1-S74
JournalBulletin of the American Meteorological Society
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 1 2015
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Explaining extreme events of 2012 from a climate perspective'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this