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Margaret V. du Bray, Barbara Quimby, Julia C. Bausch, Amber Wutich, Weston M. Eaton, Kathryn J. Brasier, Alexandra Brewis, and Clinton Williams

Abstract

This paper explores environmental distress (e.g., feeling blue) in a politically conservative (red) and predominately white farming community in the southwestern United States. In such communities across the U.S., expressed concern over environmental change–including climate change–tends to be lower. This is understood to have a palliative effect that reduces feelings of eco-anxiety. Using an emotional geographies framework, our study identifies the forms of everyday emotional expressions related to water and environmental change in the context of a vulnerable rural agricultural community in central Arizona. Drawing on long-term participant-observation and stakeholder research, we use data from individual (n= 48) and group (n=8) interviews with water stakeholders to explore reports of sadness and fear over environmental change using an emotion-focused text analysis. We find that this distress is related to social and material changes related to environmental change, rather than environmental change itself. We discuss implications for research on emotional geographies for understanding reactions to environmental change and uncertainty.

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Jiyoun Kim, Anita Atwell Seate, Brooke F. Liu, Daniel Hawblitzel, and Theodore Funk

Abstract

Weather warnings are critical risk communication messages because they have the potential to save lives and property during emergencies. However, making warning decisions is challenging. While there have been significant advances in technological weather forecasting, recent research suggests that social factors, including communication, influence warning meteorologists’ decisions to warn. We examine the roles of both scientific and social factors in predicting warning meteorologists’ decisions to warn on tornadoes. To do so, we conducted a cross-sectional survey of National Weather Service forecasters and members of management in the Southern and the Central Regions of the U.S., as well as conducted a retrospective data analysis of cross-sectional survey data from the Central Region Tornado Warning Improvement Project. Results reveal that dependency on radar velocity couplet and a variety of social factors predicted decisions to warn.

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Staci M. Zavattaro and Kelly A. Stevens

Abstract

Television station and on-air talent marketing and branding has been studied with increasing attention as there is recognition that the people are part of an overall brand strategy. In this paper, we focus on broadcast meteorologists and their views of their personal brands and how those work to engage audiences. With Hurricane Dorian in 2019 as the background major weather event, the paper focuses on how on-air meteorologists develop their brand identities. Based on these interviews, we find: (a)personal branding to build trust is paramount; b) social media are game changers for personal branding; and c) station branding can influence personal branding. Our findings shed light on the tension some on-air meteorologists experience when seeing themselves as a commodity while also trying to build trust as an expert crisis communicator.

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Dolly Y. Na-Yemeh, Christopher A. Fiebrich, James E. Hocker, and Mark A. Shafer

Abstract

Oklahoma’s First-response Information Resource System using Telecommunications (OK-First) has been used for many years to provide education, training, connections, and follow-up support for public safety officials with emergency management responsibilities in Oklahoma. Public safety officials use OK-First training and Mesonet tools to plan and make decisions to save lives and property. However, like most public systems, little is known about user interactions with tools, decisions made, and estimated savings using a weather decision support system. This study used a mixed approach of instruments and methods to collect and analyze data from three key sources to assess the perceptions, beneficiaries, and applications of weather support systems for public safety officials. Results showed that a diverse set of tools were needed and used by public safety officials to make decisions in hazardous weather conditions. OK-First tools resulted in estimated self-reported cost savings of over $1.2 M for 12 months. This study provides a crucial step in determining user interactions with tools, training, and services to better understand weather decision support systems used during hazardous weather.

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Vahid Aliabadi, Pouria Ataei, and Saeed Gholamrezai

Abstract

Considering the widespread and cross-cultural effects of climate on various production sectors, environmental factors, and human societies, drought is nowadays regarded as one of the most important environmental challenges of the current century. Due to their close relationship with the natural environment and their limited opportunities, rural communities have long been exposed to drought, and farmers in dry and semi-arid regions have been applying measures to adapt to and cope with it. The main purpose of the present study was to investigate and identify farmers’ native methods to reduce the effects of drought. The research method was phenomenological and survey. The population included villagers in Kangavar County, Kermanshah province in Iran. Sampling was done by the targeted and snowflake method. The data collection instrument was an in-depth interview in the qualitative section and a self-designed questionnaire in the quantitative section. The results showed that farmers used different measures for coping with and adapting to drought, including using no-tillage farming, uprooting trees with high water demands, hope and oblation, mulching, and reducing, changing, and/or mixing livestock types (reaction behaviors), diversifying the sources of livelihoods, changing cropping patterns, correcting irrigation practices, changing planting time, seeding before the drought, and using water storage techniques (fractional behaviors). In addition, farmers had a weaker capability to cope with the environmental, economic, and social vulnerabilities than with drought. This presented the vulnerability of farmers to drought in all economic, social, and environmental spheres.

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Zouheir Mighri, Suleman Sarwar, and Samuel Asumadu Sarkodie

Abstract

Forests are considered as the key factor in controlling climate change and extreme climatic events, due to its natural role in carbon abatement. However, 21st-century economic development is characterized by intensive resource exploitation, energy intensity, population, and urbanization, hence, affecting the natural forest habitat. The persistent deforestation and land degradation with limited sustainable forest management and its related services have long-term effects on environmental sustainability. Here, we investigate the impact of forest and its related services on China’s over decadal carbon emissions while accounting for economic development, urbanization, and fossil fuels. We use several spatial techniques to ascertain the carbon abatement effect of forestry-driven economy in halting the ecological degradation process. We report that carbon emissions decline across 30 provinces in China through the expansion of forest investment and forest management activities—instead of increasing the forest land without continuous proper management. Besides, the spatial analysis confirms that forest investments and proper management contribute to reducing carbon levels in neighboring provinces. From a policy point of view, it is more than an urgent need for the Chinese government to conduct forest management reforms, such policies might be helpful to generate new sources of employment and pollution reduction in China.

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Gala Gulacsik, Susan L. Joslyn, John Robinson, and Chao Qin

Abstract

There are lingering questions about the effectiveness of the Watch, Warning, and Advisory system (WWA) used to convey weather threats in the United States. Recently there has been a shift toward alternative communication strategies such as the impact-based forecast. The study reported here compared users’ interpretation of a color-coded impact-based prototype designed for email briefings, to a legacy WWA format. Participants, including emergency managers and members of the public, saw a weather briefing and rated event likelihood, severity, damage, and population affected. Then they recommended emergency response actions. Each briefing described the severity of the weather event and the degree of impact on population and property. In one condition a color-coded impacts scale was added to the text description. In another, an advisory and/or warning was added to the text description. These were compared to the text-only control. Both emergency managers and members of the public provided higher ratings for event likelihood, severity, damage, and population affected and recommended a greater response for higher impact levels regardless of format. For both groups, the color-coded format decreased ratings for lower impact events. Among members of the public the color-coded format also led to increases for many ratings and greater response at higher levels compared to the other two conditions. However the highest ratings among members of the public were in the WWA condition. Somewhat surprisingly, the only effect of the WWA format on emergency managers was to reduce action recommendations, probably because of the inclusion of the “Advisory” in some briefings.

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Seth P. Howard, Alison P. Boehmer, Kevin M. Simmons, and Kim E. Klockow-Mcclain

Abstract

Tornadoes are nature’s most violent storm and annually cause billions of dollars in damage along with the threat of fatalities and injuries. To improve tornado warnings, the National Weather Service is considering a change from a deterministic to a probabilistic paradigm. While studies have been conducted on how individual behavior may change with the new warnings, no study of which we are aware has considered the effect this change may have on businesses. This project is a response to the Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act of 2017, House of Representatives (H.R.) bill 353, which calls for the use of social and behavioral science to study and improve storm warning systems. The goal is to discuss business response to probabilistic tornado warnings through descriptive and regression-based statistics using a survey administered to businesses in north Texas. Prior to release, the survey was vetted by a focus group composed of businesses in Grayson County, Texas, who assisted in the creation of a behavior ranking scale. The scale ranked behaviors from low to high effort. Responses allowed for determining whether the business reacted to the warning in a passive or active manner. Returned surveys came from large and small businesses in north Texas and represent a wide variety of industries. Regression analysis explores which variables have the greatest influence on the behavior of businesses and show that, beyond increases in probability from the probabilistic warnings, trust in the warning provides the most significant change to behavior.

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Lisa K. Zottarelli, Starla A. Blake, and Michelle T. Garza

Abstract

Extreme heat events pose a threat to human health. Forecasting and warning strategies have been developed to mitigate heat-health hazards. Yet, studies have found that the public lacks knowledge about their heat-health risks and preventive actions to take to reduce risks. Local governmental websites are an important means to communicate preparedness to the public. The purpose of this study is to examine information provided to the public on municipal government web pages of the 10 most populous U.S. cities. A two-level document and content analyses were conducted. A direct content analysis was conducted using federal government websites and documents to create the Extreme Heat Event Public Response Rubric. The rubric contains two broad categories of populations and actions that are further specified. The rubric was then used to examine local government extreme heat event websites for the 10 most populous cities in the United States. The examination of the local government sites found that information included on the websites failed to identify the breadth of populations at greater risk for adverse heat-health outcomes and omitted some recommended actions designed to prevent adverse heat-health events. Local governments often communicated concrete and simple content to the public but more complex information was not included on their websites.

Significance Statement

Extreme heat is the leading weather-related cause of mortality in the United States annually. Public response to extreme heat events requires that the public understand their risk and know the actions to take to mitigate that risk. The public seeks information from local government websites. Our results found that many local government websites did not provide the information to the public on the array of conditions and factors that put people at a greater risk for an adverse heat-health event, nor did the websites include information on the variety of actions that the public should take in response to an extreme heat event in order to reduce their risks. Addressing the omission of the information on these websites may improve public response to extreme heat events.

Open access
Eric C. Jones, Corinne Ong, and Jessica Haynes

Abstract

Climate change is an increasingly pressing concern because it generates individual and societal vulnerability in many places in the world and also because it potentially threatens political stability. Aside from sea level rise, climate change is typically manifested in local temperature and precipitation extremes that generate other hazards. In this study, we investigated whether certain kinds of governance strategies were more common in societies whose food supply had been threatened by such natural hazards—specifically, floods, droughts, and locust infestations. We coded and analyzed ethnographic data from the Human Relations Area Files on 26 societies regarding dominant political, economic, and ideological behaviors of leaders in each society for a specified time period. Leaders in societies experiencing food-destroying disasters used different political economic strategies for maintaining power than did leaders in societies that face fewer disasters or that did not face such disasters. In nondisaster settings, leaders were more likely to have inward-focused cosmological and collectivistic strategies; conversely, when a society had experienced food-destroying disasters, leaders were more likely to have exclusionary tribal/family-based and externally focused strategies. This apparent difficulty in maintaining order and coherence of leadership in disaster settings may apply more to politically complex societies than to polities governed solely at the community level. Alternatively, it could be that exclusionary leaders help set up the conditions for disastrous consequences of hazards for the populace. Exceptions to the pattern of exclusionary political economic strategies in disaster settings indicate that workarounds do exist that allow leaders with corporate governance approaches to stay in power.

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