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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Sources of uncertainty in the extreme value statistics of climate data


We investigate three sources of uncertainty in the calculation of extreme value statistics for observed and modeled climate data. Inter-model differences in formulation, unforced internal variability and choice of statistical model all contribute to uncertainty. Using fits to the GEV distribution to obtain 20 year return values, we quantify these uncertainties for the annual maximum daily mean surface air temperatures of pre-industrial control runs from 15 climate models in the CMIP3 dataset.

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