WWA is a partnership between experts from the Climate Centre, Imperial College London, the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI), and the Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l’Environnement to conduct rapid attribution studies of extreme events.
The WWA network includes a wide range of scientists from around the world who join studies relevant to their geographic and thematic expertise.
WWA co-founder Dr Friederike ‘Fredi’ Otto is Senior Lecturer in Climate Science at the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment, one of Imperial College London’s six hubs for research, innovation and influence on global challenges.
KNMI’s Director (from February 2023) is Professor Maarten van Aalst, the former director of the Climate Centre; scientists Sarah Kew and Sjoukje Philip are WWA leads there.
Finally, Robert Vautard, the Director of Institut Pierre-Simon Laplace and newly appointed co-chair of the IPCC working group on the science of climate change for its seventh assessment of the global climate, rounds out the WWA core team (below, a group of WWA scientists meeting in Paris, June 2023).
The method used to conduct an attribution study consists of eight steps, described in detail in the scientific paper linked below. The first is to select and precisely define the extreme event to be studied, which provides a framework for the analysis.
Researchers determine the geographical boundaries of the most affected area, the best metrics to quantify the meteorological extreme such as maximum temperature and rainfall, and the duration of the event.
The Climate Centre’s role is chiefly to monitor potentially extreme events, with the advantage of insights gained from the Red Cross Red Crescent network in the field, helping to trigger studies using pre-established thresholds, then contributing to the definition of events and findings on vulnerability and exposure.
In 2020 the prestigious MIT Technology Review included WWA climate attribution as one of its ten “breakthrough technologies”, which matters because it provides “a clearer sense of how climate change is worsening the weather, and what we’ll need to do to prepare.”
(New York-based Roop Singh, pictured here, is the Climate Centre’s leading expert on attribution. Journalists can arrange interviews with her or her colleagues through firstname.lastname@example.org.)