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 School of Geography and the Environment

Extreme Meteorological Events Workshop

Attribution of Climate and Weather Extremes: Assessing, Anticipating and Communicating Climate Risks

Wednesday 12th to Friday 14th September 2012, Oxford University

This event is by invitation only

Hosted by the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, the Environmental Change Institute and the Oxford Martin School, University of Oxford, with the support of the UK Government Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the US National Ocean and Atmosphere Administration, the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change and the Risk Prediction Initiative of the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences.

Assessment of the extent to which weather and climate-related events can be attributed to anthropogenic and natural drivers of climate change is a new and exciting challenge for climate research. Attribution is an important climate service, meeting a range of stakeholder needs in responding and adapting to climate change. As a relatively novel product, the way in which attribution assessments are understood and used must be closely monitored. The aim of this meeting is to review and take forward the latest developments in attribution science and to develop a dialogue between the scientific community and key stakeholders with an interest in attribution results, including representatives from the insurance industry, central and local government, the legal profession and the media.

This meeting follows on from previous meetings of the Attribution of Climate-related Events (ACE) group and is timed to benefit from recent developments. Such developments include a new attribution supplement to the BAMS State of the Climate to be published for the first time in July, 2012 and the adoption by the CLIVAR C20C of a coordinated attribution activity. It will provide an opportunity to discuss lessons learned from the attribution supplement and plan contributions to any follow-up assessment for 2013.

Wednesday 12th will focus on scientific issues, comparing and reconciling different methods and interpretations of the attribution challenge and assessing the robustness of current tools available.

Thursday 13th will take a broader view of application and interpretation with a series of stakeholder-led panel discussions with scientists on the role of attribution science in different sectors.

Friday 14th (morning only) will focus on planning where we go from here and planning future activities.

All participants will be welcome to attend all three days if they wish, but we envisage those specifically interested in applications and interpretation will be primarily interested in the 13th. The Risk Prediction Initiative has kindly agreed to sponsor a meeting dinner on the evening of the 13th.

Organising Committee:

Co-Chairs: Peter Stott, Met Office and Randy Dole, NOAA

Local hosts: Myles Allen and Pete Walton, University of Oxford

Steering committee: May Akrawi, FCO; Chris Hewitt, Met Office; Marty Hoerling, NOAA; Arun Kumar, NOAA; Falk Niehoerster, Risk Prediction Initiative, Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences; Chris Sear, DECC; Peter Thorne, NOAA.


The conference is being organised by Pete Walton:


Much of the content for the workshop is organised around science sessions. The sessions aim to be a series of relatively informal 40-minute sessions, each with a chair and one or two designated speakers, with the opportunity for meeting participants to contribute, including showing slides by prior arrangement with the speakers. The Chair and speakers will try to ensure they keep the total presentation time to 20 minutes, which could be one person talking on behalf of everyone, or whatever formula they prefer, to leave 20 min for discussion.

Day 1, Wednesday 12 September

Science for attribution of extreme weather and climate-related events.

09:00-10:00Challenges of attributing extreme weather and climate-related events – Peter Stott.
10:30-11:10 Observational records of extremes: state of the art, challenges and uncertainties.
11:10-11:50 Weather extremes and modes of variability.
11:50-12.30 Model verification and the links between attribution and seasonal forecasting.
13:30-14:10 Framing the attribution question.
14:10-14:50 Attribution using empirical statistical methods.
14:50-15:30 Attribution to sea surface temperature and atmospheric composition change.
16:00-16:40 Attribution to land surface changes and feedbacks.
16:40-17:20 Attribution and anticipation of weather extremes in the coupled atmosphere-ocean system
17:20-18:00The challenges of near-real-time attribution services.
18:30-20:30 Buffet dinner and poster session.

Day 2 Thursday 13 September

Science-User Dialogue

Day 2 is structured around a series of discussions about what attribution science can offer at present to various groups with a potential stake in it, what it might be able to offer in the future, and what questions stakeholders actually need attribution science to answer. Sessions are for 1-1.5 hours each, starting with a set of short (5-minute) presentations from a stakeholder panel setting out the questions they are interested in, followed by responses from attribution scientists and discussion.

09:00-09:30 Summary of day 1 setting out science challenges and current status of tools for attribution of weather and climate-related events.
09:30-10:30Panel 1: Implications of attribution science for the legal profession and insurance industry.
11:30-12:30 Panel 2: Implications for government policy and international negotiations.
12:30–14:00Buffet lunch and poster session continued from Day 1.
14:00-15:00 Panel 3: Implications of attribution science for water resources and water security.
15:30-17:00 Panel 4: Public communication of attribution results.

Day 3 Friday 14 September (morning only)

ACE Progamme planning

9:00-10:00 Attribution science as part of climate services.
10:00-10:30 Coordinated attribution experiments and C20C.
10:30-11:00The development of the next BAMS report: “Putting Weather Extremes of 2012 in a climate perspective”.
11:00-12:00Discussion of governance of attribution results (eg WCRP), future meetings and web presence.