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Susmita Mitra, Pradeep K. Mehta, and Sudipta Kumar Mishra

Abstract

Groundwater salinity, caused by overextraction and aggravated by climate change, negatively affects crop productivity and threatens global food security. Poor farmers are vulnerable because of low adaptive capacity. A better understanding of their perceptions and adaptation is important to inform policies for successful adaptation. This paper represents an important study by exploring the same in Mewat, a salinity-affected socioeconomically disadvantaged district of northern India. The study uses a mixed-method approach with both secondary data and a primary survey of 250 farmers. A large number of farmers perceived negative impacts on water, crop, income, and assets, and they adapt in various ways such as water, crop, and land management; livelihood diversification; and a shift toward surface water irrigation. Perceived impacts differed between richer and poorer farmers, whereas adaptation measures varied across the educational, social, and economic backgrounds of farmers. Lack of awareness, education, skill development, and livelihood opportunities are found to be hindrances, whereas institutional and infrastructural support are facilitators of adaptation. In comparing the findings with global experiences, we argued that developed countries intervene more in the policy level and infrastructure, whereas in developing countries, adaptation strategies are local, context specific, and low cost. The insights from our study will be useful for intervention in Mewat and similar areas across the developing world. We further argue that farmers make adaptation decisions on the basis of perceived impacts and cost–benefit analysis. Therefore, future research work on quantifying the negative impacts and cost–benefit analysis of various adaptation measures will be useful to ensure successful adaptation in the region and beyond.

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Alexia Karwat and Christian L. E. Franzke

Abstract

Over the last few decades, heat waves have intensified and have led to excess mortality. While the probability of being affected by heat stress has significantly increased, the risk of heat mortality is rarely quantified. This quantification of heat mortality risk is necessary for systematic adaptation measures. Furthermore, heat mortality records are sparse and short, which presents a challenge for assessing heat mortality risk for future climate projections. It is therefore crucial to derive indicators for a systematic heat mortality risk assessment. Here, risk indicators based on temperature and mortality data are developed and applied to major cities in Germany, France, and Spain using regional climate model simulations. Bias-corrected daily maximum, minimum, and wet-bulb temperatures show increasing trends in future climate projections for most considered cities. In addition, we derive a relationship between daily maximum temperatures and mortality for producing future projections of heat mortality risk from extreme temperatures that is based on low (representative concentration pathway RCP2.6) and high (RCP8.5) emission scenario future climate projections. Our results illustrate that heat mortality increases by about 0.9% decade−1 in Germany, 1.7% decade−1 in France, and 7.9% decade−1 in Spain for RCP8.5 by 2050. The future climate projections also show that wet-bulb temperatures above 30°C will be reached regularly, with maxima above 40°C likely by 2050. Our results suggest a significant increase of heat mortality in the future, especially in Spain. On average, our results indicate that the mortality risk trend is almost 2 times as high in all three countries for the RCP8.5 scenario relative to RCP2.6.

Open access
Emma Austin, Anthony S. Kiem, Jane Rich, David Perkins, and Brian Kelly

Abstract

Drought is a global threat to public health. Increasingly, the impact of drought on mental health and well-being is being recognized. This paper investigates the relationship between drought and well-being to determine which drought indices most effectively capture well-being outcomes. A thorough understanding of the relationship between drought and well-being must consider the (i) three aspects of drought (duration, frequency, and magnitude); (ii) different types of drought (meteorological, agricultural, etc.); and (iii) the individual context of specific locations, communities, and sectors. For this reason, we used a variety of drought types, drought indices, and time windows to identify the thresholds for wet and dry epochs that enhance and suppress impacts to well-being. Four postcodes in New South Wales (NSW), Australia, are used as case studies in the analysis to highlight the spatial variability in the relationship between drought and well-being. The results demonstrate that the relationship between drought indices and well-being outcomes differs temporally, spatially, and according to drought type. This paper objectively tests the relationship between commonly used drought indices and well-being outcomes to establish whether current methods of quantifying drought effectively capture well-being outcomes. For funding, community programs, and interventions to result in successful adaptation, it is essential to critically choose which drought index, time window, and well-being outcome to use in empirical studies. The uncertainties associated with these relationships must be accounted for, and it must also be realized that results will differ on the basis of these decisions.

Open access
Anna Heidenreich, Martin Buchner, Ariane Walz, and Annegret H. Thieken

Abstract

Heat waves are increasingly common in many countries across the globe, and also in Germany, where this study is set. Heat poses severe health risks, especially for vulnerable groups such as the elderly and children. This case study explores visitors’ behavior and perceptions during six weekends in the summer of 2018 at a 6-month open-air horticultural show. Data from a face-to-face survey (n = 306) and behavioral observations (n = 2750) were examined by using correlation analyses, ANOVA, and multiple regression analyses. Differences in weather perception, risk awareness, adaptive behavior, and activity level were observed between rainy days (maximum daily temperature < 25°C), warm summer days (25°–30°C), and hot days (>30°C). Respondents reported a high level of heat risk awareness, but most (90%) were unaware of actual heat warnings. During hot days, more adaptive measures were reported and observed. Older respondents reported taking the highest number of adaptive measures. We observed the highest level of adaptation in children, but they also showed the highest activity level. From our results we discuss how to facilitate individual adaptation to heat stress at open-air events by taking the heterogeneity of visitors into account. To mitigate negative health outcomes for citizens in the future, we argue for tailored risk communication aimed at vulnerable groups.

Open access
Zhiming Yang, Bo Yang, Pengfei Liu, Yunquan Zhang, and Xiao-Chen Yuan

Abstract

Climate may significantly affect human society. Few studies have focused on the temperature impact on residents’ health, especially mental health status. This paper uses 98 423 observations in China to study the relationship between temperature and health, based on the China Family Panel Studies survey during 2010–16. We analyze the health effects of extreme hot and cold weather and compare the effects under different social demographic factors including gender, age, and income. We find that temperature and health status exhibit a nonlinear relationship. Women and low-income households are more likely to be impacted by extreme cold, whereas men, the elderly, and high-income households are more sensitive to extreme heat. Our results highlight the potential effects of extreme temperatures on physical and mental health and provide implications for future policy decisions to protect human health under a changing climate.

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William Mushawemhuka, Gijsbert Hoogendoorn, and Jennifer M. Fitchett

Abstract

The tourism sector plays a major role in the economic development of a number of countries in the global south, particularly southern Africa. One such country is Zimbabwe, which struggles with significant economic hardships and relies heavily on the tourism sector. The Victoria Falls, a key tourism attraction of Zimbabwe on the Zambezi River, was the subject of a plethora of news articles published between November 2019 and January 2020. The media suggested that the world’s largest waterfall had dried up as a result of climate change–induced drought. These reports arose during the dry season and were thus arguably ill founded and downplayed the natural seasonal characteristics of the Zambezi River. This paper presents content analysis of these media articles and the phenomenological qualitative data analysis of interviews conducted with tourism operators in Victoria Falls. Although some of the articles published within this period strived for accurate reporting, some articles claimed that the Victoria Falls was dry, which was inconsistent with experiences of tourism operators. This inaccurate reporting is argued by the tourism operators to have negatively affected the tourism sector and destination image of the key attraction. This paper highlights the need for accurate science-based media reporting on weather, climate, climate change, and the knowledge of the local tourism stakeholders within the tourism sector.

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Daphne E. Whitmer and Valerie K. Sims

Abstract

The goal of this research was to examine students’ risk perception of hurricanes and hurricane-related storms to address a critical gap in the literature. Participants were asked to rate their perceptions of a tropical depression, tropical storm, and hurricanes from category 1 to category 5 on five dimensions and define the storms based on wind speed. Last, individual differences in sex and growing up on the coast were examined to determine whether they explain differences in risk perceptions. Findings showed that participants’ perceptions of category-1 through category-5 hurricanes followed a linear pattern, and each pair was perceived to be significantly different. However, participants rated tropical storm and tropical depression as more severe than a category-1 hurricane and were unable to define any of the storms based on wind speed. In fact, coastal natives were less accurate at defining the storms and believed the low-tier storms to be less severe than noncoastal natives. This research is the first to show that people implicitly understand the Saffir–Simpson scale that defines hurricanes into categories 1 through 5 but not the part of the scale that defines the lesser-tiered storms. The present work demonstrates a need for enhanced education of hurricanes, because students do not make important distinctions at the lower end of the hurricane scale.

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Craig D. Croskery, Kathleen Sherman-Morris, and Michael E. Brown

Abstract

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic resulted in unprecedented challenges that dramatically affected the way of life in the United States and globally in 2020. The pandemic also made the process of protecting individuals from tornadoes more challenging, especially when their personal residence lacks suitable shelter, and particularly for residents of mobile homes. The necessity of having to shelter with other families—either in a public shelter or at another residence—to protect themselves from a tornado threat conflicted with the advice of public health officials who recommended avoiding public places and limiting contact with the public to minimize the spread of COVID-19. There was also a perception that protecting against one threat could amplify the other threat. A survey was undertaken with the public to determine the general viewpoint to see if that was indeed the case. The results found that it was possible to attenuate both threats provided that careful planning and actions were undertaken. Understanding how emergency managers should react and plan for such dual threats is important to minimize the spread of COVID-19 while also maintaining the safety of the public. Because there was no precedence for tornado protection scenarios amid a pandemic, both short-term and long-term recommendations were suggested that may also be useful in future pandemic situations.

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Siqin Wang, Yan Liu, and Jonathan Corcoran

Abstract

Both the built environment and the natural environment have a physiological and psychological effect on human behavior, which potentially affects people’s sensitivity and tolerance to surrounding noise and leads to annoyance, nuisance, distress, or overt actions and aggressive behaviors such as noise complaints to people living nearby. This study aims to explore the extent to which weather conditions affect the prevalence of noise complaints between neighbors mediated through the neighborhood’s built environment. Using Brisbane, Australia, as a study case, we draw on a large-scale administrative dataset from 2016 to explore the monthly and seasonal variations of noise complaints between neighbors and employ a stepwise multiple regression to analyze the extent to which weather factors affect noise complaints. Our findings show that neighbors largely complain about noise made by animals, and such complaints most frequently appear in March–May, the autumn season in the Southern Hemisphere. Built environment plays a primary role in noise complaints, and culturally diverse suburbs with less green space tend to have a higher likelihood of neighbor complaints in spring and summer; such a likelihood is further increased by a higher level of wind, humidity, and temperature in a yearly time frame. However, the effect of weather on animal- and non-animal-related noise complaints in different seasons is less consistent. Our findings, to a certain degree, reveal that weather conditions may serve as a psychological moderator to change people’s tolerance and sensitivity to noise, alter their routine activities and exposure to noise sources, and further affect the likelihood of noise complaints between neighbors.

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