Extreme weather has large effects on human and natural systems. Through the use of observations, climate model and statistical techniques, CASCADE researchers examine how changes in the natural environment have impacted recent weather extremes.

Increased understanding of the influence of environmental drivers on current extreme weather increases confidence in projections of changes in future extreme weather statistics.  The centerpiece modeling effort of the CASCADE Detection and Designation team is the C20C+ (Climate of the 20th Century) experiment. CASCADE is a primary contributor to the World Climate Research Program (WCRP) coordinated international project. This multi-model effort aims to aid event attribution by building a database of ensemble climate model simulations describing the “world that was” in a realistic-as-possible configuration and the “worlds that might have been” in a counterfactual configuration where environmental drivers have not changed.

Associating changes in the behavior of extreme events to specific environmental drivers requires a systematic characterization of extreme events in the recent past. Recent advances in simulation capabilities and statistical methodologies allow us to focus on the impacts of a wide range of environmental drivers at regional-to-local scales, to focus on factors impacting the spatial and temporal co-occurrence of extremes, and to simulate how we might expect extremes to change in the future.