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Wildfires and Climate Change Attribution: It's Complicated!

Presenter: UCAR/NCAR
Date: Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Many wonder about the influence that climate change is having on extreme weather-related events. But attributing a particular event to climate change is exceedingly difficult, and that's particularly true with wildfires. We know that climate change is causing changes in temperature and the dryness of some ecosystems around the world. However, quantifying the degree of climate change attribution remains complicated. As a line in the animation states, "The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence." The young field of attribution research is certain to grow in future years, which is expected to give thoughtful assessment to all weather-related extremes and help quantify causation. In the meantime, "complicated" will likely remain one of our most useful adjectives to describe the connection between a particular wildfire and climate change, at least for now.

Topics:Education & Training, Earth System, Human Impacts
Audience:General public, Informal education, Elementary school, Upper elementary, Middle school, High school

Animation: Noah Besser, Parker Street Animation

Script: Teri Eastburn, UCAR Center for Science Education