Future climate risk from compound events

Authors: Jakob Zscheischler and Seth Westra and Bart J J M van den Hurk and Sonia I Seneviratne and Philip J Ward and Andy Pitman and Amir AghaKouchak and David N Bresch and Michael Leonard and Thomas Wahl and Xuebin Zhang
Journal: Nature Climate Change
Year: 2018

Floods, wildfires, heatwaves and droughts often result from a combination of interacting physical processes across multiple spatial and temporal scales. The combination of processes (climate drivers and hazards) leading to a significant impact is referred to as a ‘compound event'. Traditional risk assessment methods typically only consider one driver and/or hazard at a time, potentially leading to underestimation of risk, as the processes that cause extreme events often interact and are spatially and/or temporally dependent. Here we show how a better understanding of compound events may improve projections of potential high-impact events, and can provide a bridge between climate scientists, engineers, social scientists, impact modellers and decision-makers, who need to work closely together to understand these complex events.