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Continuing support for ocean-based weather event attribution work
January 04, 2024

The CO2 Foundation is pleased to continue to support the development of a demonstration system for ocean temperatures that builds off the 2022 launch of Climate Central’s Climate Shift Index.

This project is oriented toward extending attribution science to allow for quantification of climate change’s “fingerprints” on daily local temperatures in the ocean as well as on land.

During the first grant year, the Climate Central project team advanced its work in a number of ways:

  • Acquired sea surface temperatures from observations and climate models;
  • Adapted Climate Shift temperature-attribution software to calculate likelihoods and attribution metrics for ocean-based events;
  • Evaluated system output for well-studied ocean temperature events and presented preliminary attribution estimates for well-documented marine heatwaves; and
  • Submitted a research paper describing the attribution approach and applying it to well-studied heatwaves.

Meanwhile, the team is developing the methodology into an operational tool and is thinking strategically about its audiences as it understands the needs for messaging and communication tools for media and other climate communicators.

An important goal for this year is to build from sea surface temperature attribution to the ability to link hurricane strength to climate change. The team is currently developing this approach and will submit a manuscript that applies it to recent storms that underwent rapid intensification.

Climate Central is committed to supporting accurate, timely discussion of the role of climate change on the formation of hurricanes and other ocean-influenced extreme weather events. The CO2 Foundation is eager to see how this work progresses over the next grant period.

Interested in seeing more images of hurricanes from space like the picture above? Look here!