EGU General Assembly 2021
© Author(s) 2021. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Climate change attribution with large ensembles

Megan Kirchmeier-Young, Xuebin Zhang, and Hui Wan
Megan Kirchmeier-Young et al.
  • Environment and Climate Change Canada, Climate Research Division, Toronto, Canada

The large sample sizes from single-model large ensembles are beneficial for a robust attribution of climate changes to anthropogenic forcing. This presentation will review examples using large ensembles in two types of attribution:  standard detection and attribution of spatio-temporal changes and extreme event attribution. First, increases in extreme precipitation have been attributed to anthropogenic forcing at large scales (global and hemispheric). We present results from a study that used three large ensembles, including two Earth System Models and one Regional Climate Model, to find a robust detection of a combined anthropogenic and natural forcing signal in the intensification of extreme precipitation at the continental scale and some regional scales in North America. Second, we use six large ensembles to assess the robustness of the attribution of extreme temperature and precipitation events. An event attribution framework is used and each large ensemble is treated as a perfect model. Robustness of the attribution is defined based on consistent agreement between the different models on a significant change in the probability of an event with the inclusion of anthropogenic forcing. We demonstrate that the attribution of extreme temperature events is robust. Meanwhile, the attribution of extreme precipitation events becomes robust in many regions under additional warming, but uncertainties pertaining to changes in atmospheric dynamics hinder attribution confidence in other regions. We also demonstrate that smaller ensembles bring larger uncertainty to event attribution.

How to cite: Kirchmeier-Young, M., Zhang, X., and Wan, H.: Climate change attribution with large ensembles, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-3404,, 2021.