Image credit: Dan Gold/Unsplash.

Discussing the role of climate change in contemporary weather extremes has led to flippancy, defensiveness (Malcolm Turnbull could barely broach the subject of rainfall variability without getting warned by the Nationals), or, for less scientifically minded former prime ministers, comparisons to animal sacrifice.

But while Australia largely ignores the impact of climate change, recently embarrassing itself at the Pacific Islands Forum, the science behind attribution has become increasingly sophisticated over the past decade and, with increasingly stark data, relatively clear cut.

Studies as far back as the early 2000s found links between climate change and the likelihood of certain weather events, notably the 2003 European heatwave, but leader of the Earth System and Climate Change (ESCC) Hub, David Karoly, says there was still a “science opinion on this ten years ago, [that] scientists couldn’t identify a clear human contribution to extreme events [and] couldn’t separate it from natural variability”.