Guidelines for studying diverse types of compound weather and climate events

Emanuele Bevacqua, Carlo De Michele, Colin Manning, Anaïs Couasnon, Andreia F.S. Ribeiro, Alexandre M. Ramos, Edoardo Vignotto, Ana Bastos, Suzana Blesić, Fabrizio Durante, John Hillier, Sérgio C. Oliveira, Joaquim G. Pinto, Elisa Ragno, Pauline Rivoire, Kate Saunders, Karin van der Wiel, Wenyan Wu, Tianyi Zhang, Jakob Zscheischler

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Compound weather and climate events are combinations of climate drivers and/or hazards that contribute to societal or environmental risk. Studying compound events often requires a multidisciplinary approach combining domain knowledge of the underlying processes with, for example, statistical methods and climate model outputs. Recently, to aid the development of research on compound events, four compound event types were introduced, namely (a) preconditioned, (b) multivariate, (c) temporally compounding, and (d) spatially compounding events. However, guidelines on how to study these types of events are still lacking. Here, we consider four case studies, each associated with a specific event type and a research question, to illustrate how the key elements of compound events (e.g., analytical tools and relevant physical effects) can be identified. These case studies show that (a) impacts on crops from hot and dry summers can be exacerbated by preconditioning effects of dry and bright springs. (b) Assessing compound coastal flooding in Perth (Australia) requires considering the dynamics of a non-stationary multivariate process. For instance, future mean sea-level rise will lead to the emergence of concurrent coastal and fluvial extremes, enhancing compound flooding risk. (c) In Portugal, deep-landslides are often caused by temporal clusters of moderate precipitation events. Finally, (d) crop yield failures in France and Germany are strongly correlated, threatening European food security through spatially compounding effects. These analyses allow for identifying general recommendations for studying compound events. Overall, our insights can serve as a blueprint for compound event analysis across disciplines and sectors.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2021EF002340
Number of pages23
JournalEarth's Future
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • climate change
  • compound events
  • environmental risk
  • guidelines
  • multidisciplinary
  • typology

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