Detection and attribution of climate change: a regional perspective
Stott, P. A., Gillett, N. P., Hegerl, G. C., Karoly, D. J., Stone, D. A., Zhang, X. and Zwiers, F. (2010) Detection and attribution of climate change: a regional perspective. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change, 1 (2). pp. 192-211. ISSN 1757-7799
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1002/wcc.34
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change fourth assessment report, published in 2007 came to a more confident assessment of the causes of global temperature change than previous reports and concluded that ‘it is likely that there has been significant anthropogenic warming over the past 50 years averaged over each continent except Antarctica.’ Since then, warming over Antarctica has also been attributed to human influence, and further evidence has accumulated attributing a much wider range of climate changes to human activities. Such changes are broadly consistent with theoretical understanding, and climate model simulations, of how the planet is expected to respond. This paper reviews this evidence from a regional perspective to reflect a growing interest in understanding the regional effects of climate change, which can differ markedly across the globe. We set out the methodological basis for detection and attribution and discuss the spatial scales on which it is possible to make robust attribution statements. We review the evidence showing significant human-induced changes in regional temperatures, and for the effects of external forcings on changes in the hydrological cycle, the cryosphere, circulation changes, oceanic changes, and changes in extremes. We then discuss future challenges for the science of attribution. To better assess the pace of change, and to understand more about the regional changes to which societies need to adapt, we will need to refine our understanding of the effects of external forcing and internal variability