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Amanda E. Cravens, Jamie McEvoy, Dionne Zoanni, Shelley Crausbay, Aaron Ramirez, and Ashley E. Cooper

Abstract

Drought is a complex challenge experienced in specific locations through diverse impacts, including ecological impacts. Different professionals involved in drought preparedness and response approach the problem from different points of view, which means they may or may not recognize ecological impacts. This study examines the extent to which interviewees perceive ecological drought in the Upper Missouri Headwaters basin in southwestern Montana. Through semistructured interviews, this research investigates individuals’ perceptions of drought by analyzing how they define drought, how they describe their roles related to drought, and the extent to which they emphasize ecological impacts of drought. Results suggest that while most interviewees have an integrated understanding of drought, they tend to emphasize either ecological or nonecological impacts of drought. This focus was termed their drought orientation. Next, the analysis considers how participants understand exposure to drought. Results indicate that participants view drought as a complex problem driven by both human and natural factors. Last, the paper explores understandings of the available solution space by examining interviewees’ views on adaptive capacity, particularly factors that facilitate or hinder the ability of the Upper Missouri Headwaters region to cope with drought. Participants emphasized that adaptive capacity is both helped and hindered by institutional, cultural, and economic factors, as well as by available information and past resource management practices. Understanding how interviewees perceive the challenges of drought can shape drought preparedness and response, allowing those designing programs to better align their efforts to the perceptions of their target audience.

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Mark L. Harvey and Victoria MacPhee

Abstract

Emerging scientific consensus reveals that spending time outdoors promotes wellness. However, several forces impede time spent outdoors, such as opportunity, safety, and adverse weather. While uncomfortable weather intuitively decreases time outdoors, acclimatization research suggests a counterintuitive process: outdoor exposure enhances physiological adaption to adverse weather, thereby increasing perceived comfort in subsequent outings and even during a single outing in some situations, which, in turn, increases time outdoors. Therefore, this study preliminarily investigated whether time spent outdoors is associated with perceptions of weather and ambient temperature, apart from actual weather. This study attempted to isolate the role of self-reported weather comfort and thermocomfort in predicting time spent outdoors by controlling for motivational and social factors. Residing in the same locale, participants were exposed to identical weather conditions. To enhance recall accuracy, participants daily reported time spent outdoors and weather comfort and thermocomfort across a 7-day period, producing 175 time-comfort entries. Cox regression analyses show that greater perceived comfort with weather and greater perceived comfort with the temperature are associated with significantly more time spent outdoors, adjusting for motivational and social factors. Results also show that participants who wanted to go outdoors, as compared with those who had to go outdoors, reported significantly greater weather comfort. Physiological and other relevant research findings on the human relationship with weather contextualize the study’s rationale and results.

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Christopher A. Fiebrich, Jadwiga R. Ziolkowska, Phillip B. Chilson, and Elizabeth A. Pillar-Little

Abstract

In recent years, technological developments in engineering and meteorology have provided the opportunity to introduce innovative extensions to traditional surface mesonets through the application of uncrewed aircraft systems (UAS). This new approach of measuring vertical profiles of weather variables by means of UAS in the atmospheric boundary layer, in addition to surface stations, has been termed a 3D mesonet. Technological innovations of a potential 3D mesonet have recently been described in the literature. However, a broader question remains about potential socioeconomic and environmental benefits and beneficiaries of this new extension. Given that the concept of a 3D mesonet is a new idea, studies about socioeconomic and environmental advantages of this network (as compared with traditional mesonets) do not appear to exist in the peer-reviewed literature. This paper aims to fill this gap by providing a first perspective on potential benefits and ripple effects of a 3D mesonet, addressing both the added value and prevented losses in specific sectoral applications and for different groups. A better understanding of qualitative economic aspects related to a 3D mesonet can facilitate future developments of this technology for more cost-effective applications and to mitigate environmental challenges in more efficient ways.

Open access
Yun Su, Yuan Kang, Xianshuai Zhai, and Xiuqi Fang

Abstract

Climate change affects relationships between regions. The sequence of peacemaking events between farming and nomadic groups in northern China from the Western Han to the Qing dynasty was constructed based on historical documents. We analyzed the impacts of climate change on ethnic relationships using war and temperature sequence data from previous studies. The main results are as follows: 1) There were 504 peacemaking events between farming and nomadic groups, with an average frequency of 2.4 times per decade. Paying tribute (68.9%) occurred significantly more frequently than intermarriage for pacification (31.1%). The sequences showed different stages. 2) There were more peacemaking events during cold periods and fewer during warm periods. Intermarriage for pacification played a greater role in peacemaking during warm periods, while paying tribute was more important during cold periods. 3) High-incidence stages of war and of peacemaking events alternated. Peacemaking events occurred more frequently during cold periods and wars occurred more frequently during warm periods. 4) During warm periods, farming and nomadic groups had enough power to contend with each other, wars occurred frequently, and intermarriage was often used for peacemaking. During cold periods, agriculture and animal husbandry declined, both sides weakened, and the power difference between them usually increased. Wars rarely occurred, and paying tribute was often used for peacemaking. Ethnic relationships are affected by many factors. As a background factor influencing land productivity, climate indirectly affected conflict-resolution measures between farming and nomadic groups. We can hereby consider ways to manage interregional ethnic relationships under global climate change today.

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Joshua Ettinger, Peter Walton, James Painter, Shannon Osaka, and Friederike E. L. Otto

Abstract

The science of extreme event attribution (EEA)—which connects specific extreme weather events with anthropogenic climate change—could prove useful for engaging the public about climate change. However, there is limited empirical research examining EEA as a climate change communication tool. To help fill this gap, we conducted focus groups with members of the U.K. public to explore benefits and challenges of utilizing EEA results in climate change advocacy messages. Testing a range of verbal and visual approaches for communicating EEA, we found that EEA shows significant promise for climate change communication because of its ability to connect novel, attention-grabbing, and event-specific scientific information to personal experiences and observations of extreme events. Communication challenges include adequately capturing nuances around extreme weather risks, vulnerability, adaptation, and disaster risk reduction; expressing scientific uncertainty without undermining accessibility of key findings; and difficulties interpreting mathematical aspects of EEA results. On the basis of our findings, we provide recommendations to help address these challenges when communicating EEA results beyond the climate science community. We conclude that EEA can help catalyze important dialogues about the links between extreme weather and human-driven climate change.

Open access
Kelly Helm Smith, Mark E. Burbach, Michael J. Hayes, Patrick E. Guinan, Andrew J. Tyre, Brian Fuchs, Tonya Haigh, and Mark D. Svoboda

Abstract

Drought-related decision-making and policy should go beyond numeric hydrometeorological data to incorporate information on how drought affects people, livelihoods, and ecosystems. The effects of drought are nested within environmental and human systems, and relevant data may not exist in readily accessible form. For example, drought may reduce forage growth, compounded by both late-season freezes and management decisions. An effort to gather crowdsourced drought observations in Missouri in 2018 yielded a much higher number of observations than did previous related efforts. Here we examine 1) the interests, circumstances, history, and recruitment messaging that coincided to produce a high number of reports in a short time; 2) whether and how information from volunteer observers was useful to state decision-makers and to U.S. Drought Monitor (USDM) authors; and 3) potential for complementary use of stakeholder and citizen science reports in assessing trustworthiness of volunteer-provided information. State officials and the Cattlemen’s Association made requests for reports, clearly linked to improving the accuracy of the USDM and the related financial benefit. Well-timed requests provided a focus for people’s energy and a reason to invest their time. State officials made use of the dense spatial coverage that observers provided. USDM authors were very cautious about a surge of reports coinciding closely with financial incentives linked to the Livestock Forage Disaster program. An after-the-fact comparison between stakeholder reports and parallel citizen science reports suggests that the two could be complementary, with potential for developing protocols to facilitate real-time use.

Open access
Ross Westoby, Rachel Clissold, and Karen E. McNamara

Abstract

As climate change accelerates, effective adaptation is an urgent and unavoidable priority. Bottom-up approaches such as community-based adaptation have been portrayed as the panacea. Recent studies are, however, highlighting the ongoing and inherent issues with normative “community” conceptualizations that assume a geographically bound, temporally fixed, and harmonious unit. Despite documentation on the negative impact these problematic assumptions can have on adaptation outcomes, adaptation at the community scale remains the preferred option for project delivery in highly exposed places such as the Pacific Islands region. More creative entry points that are less charged with problematic assumptions are needed at the local scale. This paper draws from three examples in Vanuatu to offer compelling alternative entry points for adaptation: 1) a rural technical college embedded within an Anglican mission village, 2) a whole-of-island approach, and 3) the “collective of vendors” at marketplaces. We offer hope by identifying ways to expand on and complement existing, restricted notions of community and, through this, to improve adaptation outcomes.

Free access
Mary McRae, Ross A. Lee, Scott Steinschneider, and Frank Galgano

Abstract

Increases in maximum and minimum air temperatures resulting from anthropogenic climate change will present challenges to aircraft performance. Elevated density altitude (DA) reduces aircraft and engine performance and has a direct impact on operational capabilities. The frequency of higher DA will increase with the combination of higher air temperatures and higher dewpoint temperatures. The inclusion of dewpoint temperature in DA projections will become increasingly critical as minimum air temperatures rise. High DA impacts aircraft performance in the following ways: reduction in power because the engine takes in less air; reduction in thrust because a propeller is less efficient in less dense air; reduction in lift because less dense air exerts less force on the airfoils. For fixed-wing aircraft, the performance impacts include decreased maximum takeoff weight and increased true airspeed, which results in longer takeoff and landing distance. For rotary-wing aircraft, the performance impacts include reduced power margin, reduced maximum gross weight, reduced hover ceiling, and reduced rate of climb. In this research, downscaled and bias-corrected maximum and minimum air temperatures for future time periods are collected and analyzed for a selected site: Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas. Impacts corresponding to DA thresholds are identified and integrated into risk probability matrices enabling quantifiable comparisons. As the magnitude and frequency of high DA occurrences are projected to increase as a result of climate change, it is imperative for military mission planners and acquisition officers to comprehend and utilize these projections in their decision-making processes.

Free access
Adam M. Rainear and Carolyn A. Lin

Abstract

When attempting to communicate flood risk, trust in and perceptions toward risk information dissemination as well as individual efficacy factors can play a significant role in affecting risk-mitigation motivation and intention. This study seeks to examine how risk communication, risk perception, and efficacy factors affect evacuation motivation and behavioral intentions in response to a presumed flood risk, as based on a conceptual framework guided by protection motivation theory. An online survey was administered to college students (N = 239) from a region that is subject to sea level rise and storm surges. Path analysis results indicate that, while less information-source trust predicts greater risk perception, greater information-source trust predicts greater mitigation-information-seeking intention, lower self-efficacy, and stronger response efficacy. As lower mitigation-information-seeking intention similarly predicts greater risk perception, greater mitigation-information-seeking intention also predicts stronger response efficacy. Significant predictors of evacuation motivation include lower risk perception as well as greater information-source trust, severity perception, and response efficacy. Implications of these findings are discussed in terms of information dissemination channels, messaging strategies, and recent severe flooding events.

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Morgan E. Gorris, James E. Neumann, Patrick L. Kinney, Megan Sheahan, and Marcus C. Sarofim

Abstract

Coccidioidomycosis, or valley fever, is an infectious fungal disease currently endemic to the southwestern United States. Symptoms of valley fever range in severity from flu-like illness to severe morbidity and mortality. Warming temperatures and changes in precipitation patterns may cause the area of endemicity to expand northward throughout the western United States, putting more people at risk for contracting valley fever. This may increase the health and economic burdens from this disease. We developed an approach to describe the relationship between climate conditions and valley fever incidence using historical data and generated projections of future incidence in response to both climate change and population trends using the Climate Change Impacts and Risk Analysis (CIRA) framework developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. We also developed a method to estimate economic impacts of valley fever that is based on case counts. For our 2000–15 baseline time period, we estimated annual medical costs, lost income, and economic welfare losses for valley fever in the United States were $400,000 per case, and the annual average total cost was $3.9 billion per year. For a high greenhouse gas emission scenario and accounting for population growth, we found that total annual costs for valley fever may increase up to 164% by year 2050 and up to 380% by 2090. By the end of the twenty-first century, valley fever may cost $620,000 per case and the annual average total cost may reach $18.5 billion per year. This work contributes to the broader effort to monetize climate change–attributable damages in the United States.

Open access