Attribution of extreme events is a challenging science and one that is currently undergoing considerable evolution. In this paper are 19 analyses by 18 different research groups, often using quite different methodologies, of 12 extreme events that occurred in 2012. In addition to investigating the causes of these extreme events, the multiple analyses of four of the events, the high temperatures in the United States, the record low levels of Arctic sea ice, and the heavy rain in northern Europe and eastern Australia, provide an opportunity to compare and contrast the strengths and weaknesses of the various methodologies.
The differences also provide insights into the structural uncertainty of event attribution, that is, the uncertainty that arises directly from the differences in analysis methodology. In these cases, there was considerable agreement between the different assessments of the same event. However, different events had very different causes. Approximately half the analyses found some evidence that anthropogenically caused climate change was a contributing factor to the extreme event examined, though the effects of natural fluctuations of weather and climate on the evolution of many of the extreme events played key roles as well.