Superstorm Sandy is merely the most recent high-impact weather event to raise concerns about extreme weather events becoming more frequent or more severe. Previous examples include the western European heatwave of 2003, the Russian heatwave and the Pakistan floods of 2010, and the Texas heatwave of 2011. However, it remains an open question to what extent such events may be “attributed” to human influences such as increasing greenhouse gases. One way to answer this question is to run climate models under two scenarios, one including all the anthropogenic forcing factors (in particular, greenhouse gases) while the other is run only including the natural forcings (e.g. solar fluctuations) or control runs with no forcings at all. Based on the climate model runs, probabilities of the extreme event of interest may be computed under both scenarios, followed by the risk ratio or the “fraction of attributable risk”, which has become popular in the climatology community as a measure of the human influence on extreme events. This talk will discuss statistical approaches to these quantities, including the use of extreme value theory as a method of quantifying the risk of extreme events, and Bayesian hierarchical models for combining the results of different climate models. This is joint work with Xuan Li (UNC) and Michael Wehner (Lawrence Berkeley Lab). Event flyer.
Professor Bilal M. Ayyub, PhD, PE is the Director of the Center for Technology and Systems Management, University of Maryland College Park (on sabbatical leave) and currently a visitor at the National Security Analysis Department, APL-JHU.
Global catastrophic risks are associated with natural or anthropogenic events that have the potential to inflict serious damage on human well-being on a global scale, including destroying or crippling modern civilization. Such events include nuclear war, outer space hazards, geohazards, etc. More…