RSES seminar • Sarah Perkins-Kirkpatrick (UNSW Canberra) • June 17 1 pm

• In person RSES seminar at J1 seminar room this Thursday 1 pm.
• Students are invited to lunch with the speaker.

The status and next steps of event attribution in Climate Science
Sarah Perkins-Kirkpatrick
UNSW Canberra

June 17, 2021 • 1 pm (AEST)

In person seminar at J1 Seminar Room

Zoom link ( [606 666 0101](tel:606 666 0101), password: jaeger)


Extreme event attribution is a field of climate science rapidly growing in popularity, despite being relatively new. In event attribution studies, the anthropogenic climate signal of an observed extreme event is determined by comparing the frequency and/or magnitude of the event in factual and counterfactual climates. This process is heavily reliant on physical climate models and their ability to simulate events like the one of interest, as well as the underpinning physical mechanisms. Whilst an anthropogenic signal is readily found for heat extremes, it is not always the case for other extreme events which are more prone to influences of variability, and/or are not modelled as accurately. Moreover, different approaches and/or physical models employed for attribution may yield different results, which, although scientifically plausible, poses significant communication challenges. Recently, attributing the impacts of extremes to climate change has also been explored, however there are nuances in the methodology which hinders a direct application of the attribution of the extreme event directly to its impacts. Whilst event attribution is useful and powerful, such challenges cannot be ignored. This talk will address and discuss these challenges and propose ways they may be overcome in the future.


Sarah Perkins-Kirkpatrick is a Senior Lecturer/ARC Future Fellow in the School of Science, UNSW Canberra. She received her PhD in 2010 from the Climate Change Research Centre at UNSW Sydney, where she also worked from 2011-2020. As a climate scientist specialising in extreme events, Sarah’s expertise focuses on heatwaves and event attribution. She has led pioneering research how to measure heatwaves and their changes in the observational record. Sarah has analysed how heatwaves will change under various scenarios of global warming, both over Australia and globally. She is also interested in how natural climate variability drives heatwaves, as well as employing detection and attribution methods to understand how climate change influences specific extremes and their impacts. Sarah has co-authored 80 publications throughout her career, most of which focus on extreme heat in a changing climate. She is also passionate about science communication, and regularly comments on all things heatwaves and climate change in both the Australian and international media.

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