Attributing losses and damages to anthropogenic climate change

We conduct climate change and impact attribution studies and work on their interpretation in the context of climate adaptation and loss and damage.

The first part answers questions such as "Has climate change already been an influencing factor of observed yields?" and "(How much) has climate change contributed to a specific low yield in one year and ensuing food insecurity?". We thus adjust and extend methods from climate science (detection and attribution, event attribution) to impacts in the agricultural sector, while also approaching impact attribution with approaches already established in climate impact modelling. We integrate observationally-derived as well as counterfactual climate data (SMILEs, CMIP, ISIMIP) with process-based crop yield models and statistical modelling of crop yields and related/other impacts.

Detrimental, actualised climate impacts constitute loss and damage from climate change, so the attribution results provide an assessment of the latter. In further work, we survey and analyse empirical data on economic and non-economic damages and losses. Together, these results provide a holistic understanding of climate-change related losses and damages.

In a range of interdisciplinary collaborations, we further explore how attribution results specifically, and knowledge and uncertainty regarding regional climate change and its impacts more generally, relate to society and policy. This includes, for example, scrutiny of the different roles that attribution results are suggested to help with beyond the quantification of losses and damages, or what evidence base climate finance decisions should be made on in the interest of effective adaptation planning and climate justice.

If you would like to know more about our work on attribution in the agricultural sector, please reach out to Dr. Sabine Undorf (