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WIREs Clim Change
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A compound event framework for understanding extreme impacts

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Climate and weather variables such as rainfall, temperature, and pressure are indicators for hazards such as tropical cyclones, floods, and fires. The impact of these events can be due to a single variable being in an extreme state, but more often it is the result of a combination of variables not all of which are necessarily extreme. Here, the combination of variables or events that lead to an extreme impact is referred to as a compound event. Any given compound event will depend upon the nature and number of physical variables, the range of spatial and temporal scales, the strength of dependence between processes, and the perspective of the stakeholder who defines the impact. Modeling compound events is a large, complex, and interdisciplinary undertaking. To facilitate this task we propose the use of influence diagrams for defining, mapping, analyzing, modeling, and communicating the risk of the compound event. Ultimately, a greater appreciation of compound events will lead to further insight and a changed perspective on how impact risks are associated with climate‐related hazards. WIREs Clim Change 2014, 5:113–128. doi: 10.1002/wcc.252

Conflict of interest: The authors have declared no conflicts of interest for this article.

Worldwide impacts due to climate‐related extremes for 2011. Location markers were based on selected place names which may be only one location affected within a larger region.
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Comparison of modeling methods that relate climatic and hydrologic variables.
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Schematic of a flood event: (a) a univariate probabilistic system; (b) a multivariate probabilistic system; and (c) process model including decision node.
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Schematic of key variables and relationships involved in a flood study of the Brisbane catchment conditioned with climate forcings. The schematic is not exhaustive of all processes.
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Timeline of events relating to 2011 flooding in Queensland.
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Spatial and temporal scales of typical events. Black text indicates impact events. Grey text and shaded ellipses give nominal scales for climatic events.
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Examples of activities undertaken by stakeholders at different spatial and temporal scales.
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Climate Models and Modeling > Knowledge Generation with Models
Assessing Impacts of Climate Change > Representing Uncertainty
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