Department of Statistics and Operations Research
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
INFLUENCE OF CLIMATE CHANGE ON EXTREME WEATHER EVENTS
The exceptionally active 2017 hurricane season has led to considerable speculation over the role of human-induced climate change on these and other extreme weather events. Here, we address these questions with specific references to the extreme precipitations due to Hurricane Harvey in Houston and surrounding areas. We construct a new dataset consisting of extreme precipitation events over the entire Gulf of Mexico region from 1949-2017; Harvey is by far the most extreme event over this time frame but an analysis of other high precipitation events shows a clear association with increases in both sea surface temperature and atmospheric carbon dioxide. Models are developed for the relative risk of a Harvey-type event in a world subject to anthropogenic climate forcings compared with one that is not, and for the projected increases in probabilities of such events in the future. The statistical methods are based on extreme value theory, using Bayesian methods to assess uncertainties, and we address various challenges in the combination of observational and climate model data. The topic of this talk is closely associated with the invited paper session, “Bayesian Methods for Detection and Attribution of Climate Change.”
Joint work with Kenneth Kunkel, North Carolina Institute for Climate Studies and Department of Marine, Earth, Atmospheric Sciences, North Carolina State University.
Refreshments at 3:45pm in Snedecor 2101.