"Friederike Otto and her colleagues jump into action during heat waves, floods, and fires to pinpoint if global warming is to blame."
"When weather disaster strikes, observers near and far ask the same question: Climate change—is it or isn’t it?
The simplest answer, yes, lacks specificity. All weather is a joint human-nature venture, because we’ve made the atmosphere hotter than it’s been in 125,000 years. Disasters are nothing new. Assigning blame for them is.
A breakthrough out of the U.K. is providing better, more nuanced answers faster with powerful implications for citizens, first responders, and the media.
Friederike Otto is at the heart of it. Otto is a climate scientist at Imperial College London and co-leader of World Weather Attribution, a research collaboration that quickly analyzes if or how climate change has made extreme weather somehow worse—more intense, more likely, or deadlier. It’s a small, nimble, and—because of a current lack of funding—mostly volunteer effort assembled to bust science out of the academic quad and let a curious public know when climate change affects them in the most direct and personal way. It’s also beginning to help courts answer the more pointed question: Who, specifically, is responsible?"