PerspectiveClimate Change

Extreme weather, made by us?

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Science  25 Sep 2015:
Vol. 349, Issue 6255, pp. 1444-1445
DOI: 10.1126/science.aad2132

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Anthropogenic climate change is expected to increase the frequency of heat waves and other extreme weather events (1). When such an event occurs, it is natural to ask whether it can be attributed to human activities. Conventional wisdom has long held that although it is possible to attribute an increase in the frequency of extreme events to human activities, the same is not true of individual events. Recent studies that appear to identify the role of anthropogenic climate change in, among other events, the 2010 Russian heat wave (2), the 2013 Australian heat wave (3), and the ongoing drought in California (see the photo) (4) suggest that this conventional wisdom has been overturned. But has it?