Unusual or extreme weather and climate-related events are of great public concern and interest, yet there are often conflicting messages from scientists about whether such events can be linked to climate change. There is clear evidence that climate has changed as a result of human-induced greenhouse gas emissions, and that across the globe some aspects of extremes have changed as a result. But this does not imply that the probability of occurrence (or, given a fixed damage, risk) of a specific type of recently observed weather or climate event has changed significantly as a result of human influence or that it is likely to become more or less frequent in the future. Conversely, it 2 is sometimes stated that it isn’t possible to attribute any individual weather or climate event to a particular cause. Such statements can be interpreted to mean that human induced climate change could never be shown to be at least partly responsible for any specific event. In this paper we propose a way forward through the development of carefully calibrated physically-based assessments of observed weather and climate-related events and identification of any changed risk of such events attributable to particular factors.
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