Attributable Human-Induced Changes in the Likelihood and Magnitude of the Observed Extreme Precipitation during Hurricane Harvey

TitleAttributable Human-Induced Changes in the Likelihood and Magnitude of the Observed Extreme Precipitation during Hurricane Harvey
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Volume44
Number24
Pages12,457-12,464
Date Published01/2018
Abstract / Summary

Record rainfall amounts were recorded during Hurricane Harvey in the Houston, Texas, area, leading to widespread flooding. We analyze observed precipitation from the Global Historical Climatology Network with a covariate-based extreme value statistical analysis, accounting for both the external influence of global warming and the internal influence of El Niño–Southern Oscillation. We find that human-induced climate change likely increased the chances of the observed precipitation accumulations during Hurricane Harvey in the most affected areas of Houston by a factor of at least 3.5. Further, precipitation accumulations in these areas were likely increased by at least 18.8% (best estimate of 37.7%), which is larger than the 6–7% associated with an attributable warming of 1°C in the Gulf of Mexico and Clausius-Clapeyron scaling. In a Granger causality sense, these statements provide lower bounds on the impact of climate change and motivate further attribution studies using dynamical climate models.

URLhttp://dx.doi.org/10.1002/2017gl075888
DOI10.1002/2017gl075888
Journal: Geophysical Research Letters
Year of Publication: 2018
Volume: 44
Number: 24
Pages: 12,457-12,464
Date Published: 01/2018

Record rainfall amounts were recorded during Hurricane Harvey in the Houston, Texas, area, leading to widespread flooding. We analyze observed precipitation from the Global Historical Climatology Network with a covariate-based extreme value statistical analysis, accounting for both the external influence of global warming and the internal influence of El Niño–Southern Oscillation. We find that human-induced climate change likely increased the chances of the observed precipitation accumulations during Hurricane Harvey in the most affected areas of Houston by a factor of at least 3.5. Further, precipitation accumulations in these areas were likely increased by at least 18.8% (best estimate of 37.7%), which is larger than the 6–7% associated with an attributable warming of 1°C in the Gulf of Mexico and Clausius-Clapeyron scaling. In a Granger causality sense, these statements provide lower bounds on the impact of climate change and motivate further attribution studies using dynamical climate models.

DOI: 10.1002/2017gl075888
Citation:
Wehner, M.  2018.  "Attributable Human-Induced Changes in the Likelihood and Magnitude of the Observed Extreme Precipitation during Hurricane Harvey."  Geophysical Research Letters 44(24): 12457-12464.  https://doi.org/10.1002/2017gl075888.