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Rebecca E. Morss, Jamie Vickery, Heather Lazrus, Julie Demuth, and Ann Bostrom

Abstract

As tropical cyclone threats evolve, broadcast meteorologists and emergency managers rely on timely forecast information to help them communicate risk with the public and protect public safety. This study aims to improve the usability and applicability of NWS forecast information in the context of these NWS core partners’ decisions during tropical cyclone threats. The research collected and analyzed data from in-depth interviews with broadcast meteorologists and emergency managers in 3 coastal U.S. states. These data were used to analyze broadcast meteorologists’ and emergency managers’ tropical cyclone decision and action timelines, their use of tropical cyclone information during different phases of threats, and gaps in forecast information for decision making. Based on these findings, several opportunities for improving tropical cyclone risk communication were identified. Recommendations to address gaps in the NWS tropical cyclone product suite include designing improved ways to communicate storm-specific storm surge risk at greater than 48 hours lead time, expanding the use of concise highlights that help people quickly extract and understand key information, and improving product understandability and usability by more comprehensively integrating users’ perspectives into product research and development. Broader strategic recommendations include developing new approaches for informing broadcast meteorologists about major forecast updates, presenting forecast information in ways that enable locally relevant interpretation, and supporting human forecasters’ contributions to the effectiveness of NWS products and services. These findings and recommendations can help NOAA prioritize ways to modernize the current NWS tropical cyclone product suite as well as motivate research to enable longer-term high-priority improvements.

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S M Asger Ali and Duane A. Gill

Abstract

Media organizations can quickly disseminate information from official sources to the general population. Media plays a vital role before, during, and after a hazard incident or natural disaster by broadcasting early warnings, coordinating emergency management strategies, providing timely updates, and offering advice on protective actions. Therefore, it is important to examine how news media use various framing devices such as story selection, placement, length, and quotations from officials and citizens in their crisis news coverage. Our paper investigates print media coverage of Hurricane Harvey utilizing data from three newspapers: the New York Times (online), the Wall Street Journal (online), and the Houston Chronicle. By examining the use of descriptors, quotes, and wording regarding Hurricane Harvey, our research explores how media coverage framed and created a tone for government and private sectors for their roles in response and recovery processes. Findings reveal that the human-interest frame received the most media attention while the morality frame received less attention. Regarding tone, we find that the overall tone for government response was balanced and less negative. However, the media tone varies between three levels of government: the tone for the federal government was more negative, while the tone for the city and state level of government was slightly positive. For private sectors, we found that the for-profit sector coverage had a strong negative tone while the non-profit sector received a strong positive tone. By offering a descriptive analysis of framing and tone, our study reveals how print media portray actors involved in recovery and rebuilding efforts for Hurricane Harvey.

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Lauren Hodgson Miss, Gabriela Fernando Dr., and Nina Lansbury Dr.

Abstract

For many people living in low-income coastal communities, marine resources provide a crucial source of animal protein and are of major nutritional importance. However, due to various human-induced pressures, such as overfishing and poor resource management, marine resources are deteriorating at an unprecedented rate. Climate change effects this dynamic by contributing directly to marine resource deterioration and acting as an effect multiplier, worsening already-present problems in the systems. This deterioration threatens the viability of marine resources to support future food security demands and presents multiple health implications for coastal communities that rely upon these resources. This research used a narrative review to explore how the impacts of climate change are projected to impact human health and sustainable development throughout subsistence fishing communities. A case study approach focusing on the Pacific region of Micronesia was conducted to provide a practical indication of the future scenario applicable to other geographical regions across the globe. The results indicate that climate change is likely to exacerbate adverse health outcomes such as food insecurity, ciguatera fish poisoning, heatstroke, mental health problems, and lead to the deterioration of traditional cultural practices. As the climate crisis is happening now and will be an issue extending into the foreseeable future, it is necessary to implement adaptation strategies, funding, and governance to limit global emissions, preserve marine resources, and support human well-being. Therefore, this research details adaptation strategies, such as diversifying fish catch and reviving traditional post-harvest preservation methods, that may help communities adapt climate change.

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Dag O. Hessen and Vigdis Vandvik

Abstract

It is increasingly evident that climate sustainability depends not only on societal actions and responses, but also on ecosystem functioning and responses. The capacity of global ecosystems to provide services such as sequestering carbon and regulating hydrology is being strongly reduced both by climate change itself and by unprecedented rates of ecosystem degradation. These services rely on functional aspects of ecosystems that are causally linked—the same ecosystem components that efficiently sequester and store carbon also regulate hydrology by sequestering and storing water. This means that climate change adaptation and mitigation must involve not only preparing for a future with temperature and precipitation anomalies, but also actively minimizing climate hazards and risks by conserving and managing ecosystems and their fundamental supporting and regulating ecosystem services. We summarize general climate–nature feedback processes relating to carbon and water cycling on a broad global scale before focusing on Norway to exemplify the crucial role of ecosystem regulatory services for both carbon sequestration and hydrological processes and the common neglect of this ecosystem–climate link in policy and landscape management. We argue that a key instrument for both climate change mitigation and adaptation policy is to take advantage of the climate buffering and regulative abilities of a well-functioning natural ecosystem. This will enable shared benefits to nature, climate, and human well-being. To meet the global climate and nature crises, we must capitalize on the importance of nature for buffering climate change effects, combat short-term perspectives and the discounting of future costs, and maintain or even strengthen whole-ecosystem functioning at the landscape level.

Significance Statement

Natural ecosystems such as forests, wetlands, and heaths are key for the cycling and storage of water and carbon. Preserving these systems is essential for climate mitigation and adaptation and will also secure biodiversity and associated ecosystem services. Systematic failure to recognize the links between nature and human well-being underlies the current trend of accelerating loss of nature and thereby nature’s ability to buffer climate changes and their impacts. Society needs a new perspective on spatial planning that values nature as a sink and store of carbon and a regulator of hydrological processes, as well as for its biodiversity. We need policies that fully encompass the role of nature in preventing climate-induced disasters, along with many other benefits for human well-being.

Open access
Frank Baffour-Ata, Philip Antwi-Agyei, Elias Nkiaka, Andrew J. Dougill, Alexander K. Anning, and Stephen Oppong Kwakye

Abstract

Climate information services can build the resilience of African farmers to address the increasing threats associated with climate change. This study used household surveys with 200 farmers and focus group discussions to identify the types of climate information services available to farming households in two selected districts (Tolon and Nanton) in the Northern Region of Ghana. The study also identified the dissemination channels and the barriers faced by farmers in their access and use of climate information services for building climate resilience in Ghanaian farming systems. Multinomial logistic regression analysis was used to evaluate the determinants of farmers’ access to climate information services. Results show that 70% of the surveyed farmers had access to varied forms of climate information services. The most prevalent meteorological variables accessible to them were rainfall, temperature, and windstorms in the form of daily and weekly weather forecasts, with only very limited availability and use of seasonal climate forecasts. Radio, television, and advice from extension agents were reported as the major dissemination channels by study respondents. A majority of the farmers reported lack of communication devices, mistrust in weather and climate forecasts, and lack of visual representations in the forecasts as major barriers to access and use of climate information services. The results highlight the importance of timely and reliable access to climate information services in enhancing farmers’ decision-making capacities and the need for training and recruitment of more extension agents to work with farmers on linking climate information services to targeted actions on crop and land management.

Open access
Carlo Aall, Tarje Wanvik, and Brigt Dale

Abstract

To reach the 1.5°–2° goal of the Paris Agreement, the speed of transition to a renewable energy society must increase significantly. Applying Perrow’s theory of societal risk, we argue that switching from a fossil-based energy system to a future 100% renewable energy system may increase climate risks. Reviewing policy and research literature, and interviewing key energy policy actors in Norway, we find that there is limited knowledge on this topic and that the knowledge that does exist suffers from several shortcomings. Climate risks are generally discussed by applying future climate to the current energy system and thus failing to consider climate vulnerabilities caused by the ongoing energy transition. Also, discussions are frequently limited to subsystem reflections as opposed to system reflections and mostly present supply-side perspectives as opposed to demand-side perspectives. Most of the policy actors conclude that a future 100% renewable energy system will mainly benefit from climate change and reduce rather than increase climate risks. A research agenda is proposed to gain a better understanding of how the ongoing energy transitions can affect climate risks, especially to address the potential that reducing the level of energy consumption, diversifying energy sources, and prioritizing short-traveled energy can have to reduce climate risk in high-consuming countries.

Significance Statement

Switching from a fossil-based to a mostly “climate driven” renewable energy system may increase climate risks, and rapid transitions may increase risks even more. Still, knowledge of such risks is limited and suffers from several shortcomings. Studies are generally applying future climate to current energy system conditions and thus failing to consider vulnerabilities caused by the ongoing transformation of the energy system. Studies so far are also often limited to analyzing only parts of the system and not the energy system as a whole, and they are aiming at the production side rather than the consumption side. Thus, they tend to conclude that the energy system will mainly benefit from climate change. To reduce climate risks, we claim the need to focus on energy consumption and short-traveled energy.

Open access
Joseph Ripberger, Andrew Bell, Andrew Fox, Aarika Forney, William Livingston, Cassidy Gaddie, Carol Silva, and Hank Jenkins-Smith

Abstract

Probabilistic forecast information is rapidly spreading in the weather enterprise. Many scientists agree that this is a positive development, but incorporating probability information into risk communication can be challenging because communicators have little guidance about the most effective way to present it. This project endeavors to create such guidance by initiating a “living systematic review” of research studies that empirically examine the impact of risk messages that use probability information on protective action decision-making, intentions, and behaviors. In this article, we explain how we began the review, map the current state of the literature, synthesize core findings, provide actionable recommendations to assist forecasters in risk communication, and introduce an online platform that scholars and forecasters can use to interact with the data from the review. We conclude with two key points from the review that necessitate emphasis: the research literature strongly suggests that 1) average people can make sense of and use probability information if consideration is given to information presentation and 2) assuming appropriate presentation, probability information generally improves decision quality.

Significance Statement

Probability information is increasingly common in weather forecasts, but forecasters have relatively little guidance on the most effective way to communicate this information to members of the public. This project synthesizes the research literature to provide actionable recommendations to assist forecasters who are working to include probability information in risk communication messages.

Open access
Berill Blair, Malte Müller, Cyril Palerme, Rayne Blair, David Crookall, Maaike Knol-Kauffman, and Machiel Lamers

Abstract

Forecasts of sea ice evolution in the Arctic region for several months ahead can be of considerable socioeconomic value for a diverse range of marine sectors and for local community supply logistics. However, subseasonal-to-seasonal (S2S) forecasts represent a significant technical challenge, and translating user needs into scientifically manageable procedures and robust user confidence requires collaboration among a range of stakeholders. We developed and tested a novel, transdisciplinary coproduction approach that combined socioeconomic scenarios and participatory, research-driven simulation gaming to test a new S2S sea ice forecast system with experienced mariners in the cruise tourism sector. Our custom-developed computerized simulation game known as “ICEWISE” integrated sea ice parameters, forecast technology, and human factors as a participatory environment for stakeholder engagement. We explored the value of applications-relevant S2S sea ice prediction and linked uncertainty information. Results suggest that the usefulness of S2S services is currently most evident in schedule-dependent sectors but is expected to increase as a result of anticipated changes in the physical environment and continued growth in Arctic operations. Reliable communication of uncertainty information in sea ice forecasts must be demonstrated and trialed before users gain confidence in emerging services and technologies. Mariners’ own intuition, experience, and familiarity with forecast service provider reputation impact the extent to which sea ice information may reduce uncertainties and risks for Arctic mariners. Our insights into the performance of the combined foresight/simulation coproduction model in brokering knowledge across a range of domains demonstrates promise. We conclude with an overview of the potential contributions from S2S sea ice predictions and from experiential coproduction models to the development of decision-driven and science-informed climate services.

Open access
Alexis A. Merdjanoff, David M. Abramson, Yoon Soon Park, and Rachael Piltch-Loeb

Abstract

Catastrophic disasters disrupt the structural and social aspects of housing, which can lead to varying lengths of displacement and housing instability for affected residents. Stable housing is a critical aspect of postdisaster recovery, which makes it important to understand how much time passes before displaced residents are able to find stable housing. Using the Gulf Coast Child and Family Health Study, a longitudinal cohort of Mississippi and Louisiana residents exposed to Hurricane Katrina (n = 1079), we describe patterns of stable housing by identifying protective and prohibitive factors that affect time to stable housing in the 13 years following the storm. Survival analyses reveal that median time to stable housing was 1082 days—over 3 years after Katrina. Age, housing tenure, marital status, income, and social support each independently affected time to stable housing. Findings suggest that postdisaster housing instability is similar to other forms of housing instability, including eviction, frequent moves, and homelessness.

Significance Statement

Climate change is expected to increase gradual-onset events like sea level rise, as well as the frequency and intensity of acute disasters like hurricanes. Such events when coupled with population growth, coastline development, and increasing inequality will lead to high levels of displacement and housing instability. Using longitudinal data, we wanted to understand how much time passed until residents who were displaced by Hurricane Katrina were able to find permanent and stable housing and identify factors that either prolonged or accelerated respondents’ time to stable housing. Addressing this gap can help to improve resident recovery and create targeted postdisaster housing policy, especially as displacement from disasters becomes increasingly common among those living in regions susceptible to the effects of climate change.

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Daan Liang, Zhen Cong, and Guofeng Cao

Abstract

Timely communication of warnings is essential to protection of lives and properties during tornado outbreaks. Both official and personal channels of communication prove to have considerable impact on the overall outcome. In this study, an agent-based model is developed to simulate warning’s reception–dissemination process in which a person is exposed to, receives, and sends information while interacting with others. The model is applied to an EF5 tornado (EF indicates enhanced Fujita scale) that struck Moore, Oklahoma, in 2013. The parameters are calibrated using publicly available data or a poststorm telephone survey or were derived from literature reviews, expert judgement, and sensitivity analysis. The result shows a reasonable agreement between modeled and observed reception rates for older and younger adults and for different channels, with errors of less than 20 percentage points. Similar agreement is also seen for the average numbers of warning sources. The subsequent simulation indicates that, in the absence of tornado sirens, the overall reception rates for younger and older adults would drop from the baseline by 17 and 6 percentage points, respectively. Concurrently, there is a large decline in the number of warning sources. When a persons’ social network is enlarged, the reception rate for older adults improves from 77% to 80%, whereas for younger adults it stays unchanged. The impact of increased connectivity is more pronounced when people are not watching television or a tornado siren is not available.

Significance Statement

Every year, tornadoes cause significant property damage and numerous casualties in the United States. This study aims to understand how tornado warnings reach the at-risk public through various communication channels. Using the agent-based model and simulation, we are able to reconstruct the dynamic patterns of warning’s reception–dissemination process for older and younger adults within a historical EF5 tornado. Further analysis confirms the importance of tornado sirens in not only alerting more residents about the dangerous weather condition but also prompting protective actions. In the meantime, an increase in social connectivity among residents would compensate for the lack of exposure to television and tornado siren. Future work should investigate the robustness of this model and its parameters when applied to other tornado outbreaks.

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