Research ArticleCLIMATOLOGY

Dependence of drivers affects risks associated with compound events

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Science Advances  28 Jun 2017:
Vol. 3, no. 6, e1700263
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1700263

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Compound climate extremes are receiving increasing attention because of their disproportionate impacts on humans and ecosystems. However, risks assessments generally focus on univariate statistics. We analyze the co-occurrence of hot and dry summers and show that these are correlated, inducing a much higher frequency of concurrent hot and dry summers than what would be assumed from the independent combination of the univariate statistics. Our results demonstrate how the dependence structure between variables affects the occurrence frequency of multivariate extremes. Assessments based on univariate statistics can thus strongly underestimate risks associated with given extremes, if impacts depend on multiple (dependent) variables. We conclude that a multivariate perspective is necessary to appropriately assess changes in climate extremes and their impacts and to design adaptation strategies.

  • Climate extremes
  • compound events
  • Climate Change
  • risk
  • CMIP5

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

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