Dr Otto’s Climate Series talk at KlimaCampus Hamburg

Dr Friederike Otto gave a talk on climate change attribution at KlimaCampus Hamburg recently.

KlimaCampus is a network of universities, research institutes and federal authorities in Hamburg, which focuses on climate, climate change and climate consequences.

Her talk, Changing climate hazards across timescales – combining extreme event attribution and medium term climate projections, was part of the seminar series ‘ClimateCampus Colloquium’, in which internationally respected experts discuss current topics in climate research and establish links between the various research fields.

Dr Otto described how, in the aftermath of an extreme weather event, policymakers are often called upon to make timely and sensitive decisions about rebuilding and managing present and future risks. Information regarding whether, where, and how present day and future risks are changing is needed to adequately inform these decisions. But this information is often not available and when it is, it is often not presented in a systematic way.

A seamless approach to extreme event attribution and future risk assessment using the same set of model ensembles could be used to provide such information on past, present and future hazard risk. Based on six case studies on different types of events this approach shows improvement in the robustness of future risk assessment and attribution statements alike.

Dr Otto described a study she led in 2015 examining a severe drought in São Paulo, the largest city in South America with a population of about 20 million. The study examined the drought in terms of lack of rainfall, water availability and water demand, but also looked at factors other than climate change (Otto et al 2015). They found that the drought was a 1 in 10 year event that – while unusual – was not unprecedented, with similar dry periods occurring before, with the most recent being in 2001. However the 2014/15 drought had more severe impacts than previous events due to contributory factors including population increase and water demand – the city’s water usage had increased dramatically since the last drought event.

She concluded by saying that, when assessing changing climate change hazards, extreme event attribution would ideally be combined with assessment of other relevant factors, so that researchers can provide information useful for risk assessment.

You can see a video of the full talk here https://lecture2go.uni-hamburg.de/l2go/-/get/v/22594


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