16 - fact sheet

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Estimating future probabilities of extreme weather events
Climate change scenarios usually focus on changes in average conditions, without including estimates of changes in the magnitude and occurrence of extreme weather events such as storms and extreme temperatures. This is because of limited availability of reliable climate model output at the small space and time scales of extreme events, and the lack of tested methods of developing scenarios that include information about changes in climate variability and extremes. Dr Mike Hulme and colleagues from the University of East Anglia's School of Environmental Studies are developing computationally efficient and statistically credible methods of including probabilities about extreme events in scenarios. They will also develop guidelines for developing scenarios that include low probability, high impact events such as an abrupt change in the North Atlantic thermohaline ocean circulation, the melting of the West Antarctic ice shelf, or large releases of methane trapped beneath permafrost. The team will conduct literature reviews and discussions with key experts to identify a range of methods most suitable for developing scenarios that include extremes. They will test the most promising scenario development tools using specific UK case studies of extreme conditions such as drought. The best scenario development methods will then be extended to allow probabilities to be assigned to future extreme events. The results will shape how the Tyndall Centre's Integrated Assessment Model incorporates information about extreme events. They will also contribute to the modelling of extreme events on coasts, and the investigation of the effect of extremes on buildings. The project will also provide climate change researchers with an authoritative account of the pros and cons of various scenario development methods with the potential for including changes in extreme weather events.

Changes in extreme weather events need to be included in storylines of potential future climates. Picture courtesy Worcester Evening News More information Contact the lead investigator of Project IT1.16 (Scenario development methods for the estimation of future probabilities of extreme weather events): Dr Mike Hulme Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich NR4 7TJ, UK Phone: +44 (0) 1603 59 3162; Fax: +44 (0) 59 3901 Email: Other researchers involved in this project are: Dr Tim Osborn, Dr Clare Goodess and Dr Jean Palutikof, Climate Research Unit, School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia Project duration:

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IT1.16 - fact sheet

April 2001 to July 2002 Useful web sites: The Tyndall Centre: The Climatic Research Unit: Climate Change Scenarios for the United Kingdom: UK Climate Impacts Programme: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change data distribution centre: Weather generator at the Institute of Arable Crops Research:

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