Emergence of heat extremes attributable to anthropogenic influences

A.D. King, M.T. Black, S.-K. Min, E.M. Fischer, D.M. Mitchell, L.J. Harrington, S.E. Perkins-Kirkpatrick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

57 Citations (Scopus)


Climate scientists have demonstrated that a substantial fraction of the probability of numerous recent extreme events may be attributed to human-induced climate change. However, it is likely that for temperature extremes occurring over previous decades a fraction of their probability was attributable to anthropogenic influences. We identify the first record-breaking warm summers and years for which a discernible contribution can be attributed to human influence. We find a significant human contribution to the probability of record-breaking global temperature events as early as the 1930s. Since then, all the last 16 record-breaking hot years globally had an anthropogenic contribution to their probability of occurrence. Aerosol-induced cooling delays the timing of a significant human contribution to record-breaking events in some regions. Without human-induced climate change recent hot summers and years would be very unlikely to have occurred.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3438-3443
Number of pages6
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number7
Early online date2 Apr 2016
Publication statusPublished - 27 Apr 2016


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