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Manishka De Mel, William Solecki, Radley Horton, Ryan Bartlett, Abigail Hehmeyer, Shaun Martin, and Cynthia Rosenzweig

Abstract

Integrating climate risk information into resilience-building activities in the field is important to ensure that adaptation is based on the best available science. Despite this, many challenges exist when developing, communicating, and incorporating climate risk information. There are limited resources on how stakeholders perceive risks, use risk information, and what barriers exist to limit knowledge integration. This paper seeks to define the following: 1) What do conservation stakeholders consider to be the most significant climate risks they face now and possibly in the future? 2) What have been the most significant barriers to their using climate risk information? 3) What sources and types of knowledge would be most useful for these managers to overcome these barriers? A survey was conducted among stakeholders (n = 224) associated with World Wildlife Fund projects in tropical and subtropical countries. A very high proportion of stakeholders used climate risk information and yet faced integration-related challenges, which included too much uncertainty and the lack of a relevant scale for planning. The main factors preventing the use of climate risk information in decision-making were unavailability of climate risk information, no or limited financial or human resources available to respond, lack of organizational mandate or support, and no or limited institutional incentives. Comparing perceived current and future risks revealed a decline in concern for some future climate hazards. Survey respondents identified scientific reports, climate scientists, and online sources as the most useful information sources of climate risk information, while (i) maps and illustrations; (ii) scenarios format; and (iii) data tables, graphs, and charts were identified as user-friendly formats.

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Inez Z. Ponce de Leon

Abstract

Supertyphoon Haiyan hit the Philippines in 2013, causing massive damage and loss of lives. The media blamed the government for faulty warnings, including using the term “storm surge,” which people reportedly did not understand. As a result, the national agency tasked with disaster risk management recommended translating the term for better response in future storms. Such an approach shortchanges the complexity of risk construction and dismisses the possibility that different communities also have different understandings of risk. In this study, the researcher examined the special case of Coron, Palawan: a major tourist destination that is rarely hit by storms but that became the site of Haiyan’s last landfall. Guided by encoding–decoding theory, the researcher interviewed local government officials and carried out focus group discussions with representatives of two communities (whose names have been hidden under pseudonyms for this study): Central, close to the municipal center, and Island, a coastal village far away from potential aid and rescue. The researcher found a portrait of contrasts that split Coron: a mayor who surrendered all control and a risk management officer who planned for long-term hazard response—Island waiting for government instructions despite knowing about storm behavior and Central taking the initiative to create long-term solutions. Island also knew what storm surges were and did not need translation of the term. These findings show that risk constructions can differ even at the municipal level, which should prompt further research into the role of local knowledge in understanding risk and hazard warnings.

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Kelley M. Murphy, Eric C. Bruning, Christopher J. Schultz, and Jennifer K. Vanos

Abstract

A lightning risk assessment for application to human safety was created and applied in 10 west Texas locations from 2 May 2016 to 30 September 2016. The method combined spatial lightning mapping data, probabilistic risk calculation adapted from the International Electrotechnical Commission Standard 62305-2, and weighted average interpolation to produce risk magnitudes that were compared with tolerability thresholds to issue lightning warnings. These warnings were compared with warnings created for the same dataset using a more standard lightning safety approach that was based on National Lightning Detection Network (NLDN) total lightning within 5 n mi (1 n mi = 1.852 km) of each location. Four variations of the calculation as well as different units of risk were tested to find the optimal configuration to calculate risk to an isolated human outdoors. The best-performing risk configuration using risk (10 min)−1 or larger produced the most comparable results to the standard method, such as number of failures, average warning duration, and total time under warnings. This risk configuration produced fewer failures than the standard method but longer total time under warnings and higher false alarm ratios. Median lead times associated with the risk configuration were longer than the standard method for all units considered, whereas median down times were shorter for risk (10 min)−1 and risk (15 min)−1. Overall, the risk method provides a baseline framework to quantify the changing lightning hazard on the storm scale and could be a useful tool to aid in lightning decision support scenarios.

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Yajie Li, Amanda Lee Hughes, and Peter D. Howe

Abstract

Message diffusion and message persuasion are two important aspects of success for official risk messages about hazards. Message diffusion enables more people to receive lifesaving messages, and message persuasion motivates them to take protective actions. This study helps to identify win–win message strategies by investigating how an underexamined factor, message content that is theoretically important to message persuasion, influences message diffusion for official risk messages about heat hazards on Twitter. Using multilevel negative binomial regression models, the respective and cumulative effects of four persuasive message factors—hazard intensity, health risk susceptibility, health impact, and response instruction—on retweet counts were analyzed using a dataset of heat-related tweets issued by U.S. National Weather Service accounts. Two subsets of heat-related tweets were also analyzed: 1) heat warning tweets about current or anticipated extreme heat events and 2) tweets about nonextreme heat events. This study found that heat-related tweets that mentioned more types of persuasive message factors were retweeted more frequently, and so were two subtypes of heat-related tweets. Mentions of hazard intensity also consistently predicted increased retweet counts. Mentions of health impacts positively influenced message diffusion for heat-related tweets and tweets about nonextreme heat events. Mentions of health risk susceptibility and response instructions positively predicted retweet counts for tweets about nonextreme heat events and tweets about official extreme heat warnings, respectively. In the context of natural hazards, this research informs practitioners with evidence-based message strategies to increase message diffusion on social media. Such strategies also have the potential to improve message persuasion.

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Julia Linder and Victoria Campbell-Arvai

Abstract

In the midwestern United States, intensifying impacts from climate change necessitate adaptation by the agricultural sector. Tree fruit agriculture is uniquely vulnerable to climate change due to the long-lived nature of perennial systems, yet very few studies have addressed how fruit growers perceive climate change and are responding to climate risks. For this study, 16 semistructured interviews were conducted with Michigan tree fruit growers to understand how their climate change beliefs, beliefs about adaptive actions, and climate-related risk perceptions influence adaptation behaviors. While there was a great deal of uncertainty about the anthropogenic nature of climate change, growers generally agreed that unprecedented changes in climate and weather patterns were occurring. Because of a perception of little control over future climate impacts, most growers reactively adapted to climate risks that negatively impacted their orchards by implementing measures such as frost protection, irrigation, pesticides, and crop insurance. This study highlighted that while proactive adaptations such as crop diversification, planting new varieties, and improving soil health will be necessary to increase farm resilience in the future, growers were unable to justify making these changes due to their uncertainty about future climate changes. The findings from this study highlight the need for future outreach efforts by university extension agents, private agricultural advisors, and federal and state agency advisors to provide educational information on the long-term impacts of climate change in order to help growers increase the resilience of their farm in the face of future climate impacts.

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Abdulrahman Khamaj, Amin G. Alhashim, Vincent T. Ybarra, and Azham Hussain

Abstract

Communicating weather forecasts from the public perspective is essential for meeting people’s needs and enhancing their overall experiences. Because of the lack of cited work on the public’s behavior and perception of weather data and delivery sources in Middle Eastern countries such as Saudi Arabia (KSA), this study employs a cross-sectional questionnaire to fill the gap and apply the protective action decision model to non-Western individuals. The questionnaire examined respondents’ opinions about 1) the importance of weather forecast accessibility, 2) crucial weather features, and 3) available features on existing smartphone weather applications (apps) in KSA. The results showed that nearly all participants reported that their decisions of daily lives and activities were highly dependent on weather forecasts. Most participants thought weather forecast features are necessary. Although the most commonly used source for weather forecasts in KSA was smartphone apps, many participants responded that these apps were lacking specific weather functionalities (e.g., giving weather alerts to their exact location). Regression analyses found that KSA individuals who do not believe that weather forecasts are important are predicted by 1) not wanting any new features added to weather applications and 2) thinking that weather forecasts do not impact lives or property. This study’s findings can guide governmental and private weather agencies in KSA and other Middle Eastern or developing countries to better understand how to meet and communicate people’s weather needs.

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David Huntsman, Hao-Che Wu, and Alex Greer

Abstract

Scholars have produced several theories and models to explain why individuals adjust to hazards. While findings from these studies are informative, studies have not considered how threat and coping appraisals may have differential effects on varying types of hazard adjustments, or how these findings may generalize to vulnerable populations. This study expands on the protection motivation theory to explore the factors that shape hazard adjustment intentions among college students, a population traditionally defined as vulnerable, in response to tornado risk. An online survey was administered to college students (n = 377) at Oklahoma State University, situated in a region that experiences considerable tornado risk. While the correlations between threat appraisal and tornado hazard adjustment intentions are smaller than the correlations between coping appraisal and tornado hazard adjustment intentions, findings suggest that threat appraisals become more important for influencing college students’ adjustment intentions when adjustment activities are complex (e.g., tornado shelter, home insurance) rather than basic (e.g., flashlight, first-aid kit). This suggests that while both threat appraisals and coping appraisals are important for complex hazard adjustment intentions, basic hazard adjustment intentions are almost exclusively determined by coping appraisals. These findings have several practical implications for emergency management and provide new avenues for future hazard adjustment studies.

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Daniel Leppert, Tobias Dalhaus, and Carl-Johan Lagerkvist

Abstract

Extreme heat events cause periodic damage to crop yields and may pose a threat to the income of farmers. Weather index insurance provides payouts to farmers in the case of measurable weather extremes to keep production going. However, its viability depends crucially on the accuracy of local weather indices to predict yield damages from adverse weather conditions. So far, extreme heat indices are poorly represented in weather index insurance. In this study, we construct indices of extreme heat using observations at the nearest weather station and estimates for each county using three interpolation techniques: inverse-distance weighting, ordinary kriging, and regression kriging. Applying these indices to insurance against heat damage to corn in Illinois and Iowa, we show that heat index insurance reduces relative risk premiums by 27%–29% and that interpolated indices outperform the nearest-neighbor index by around 2%–3% in terms of relative risk reduction. Further, we find that the advantage of interpolation over a nearest-neighbor index in terms of relative risk reduction increases as the sample of weather stations is reduced. These findings suggest that heat index insurance can work even when weather data are spatially sparse, which delivers important implications for insurance practice and policy makers. Further, our public code repository provides a rich toolbox of methods to be used for other perils, crops, and regions. Our results are therefore not only replicable but also constitute a cornerstone for projects to come.

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Meaghan L. Guckian, Ezra M. Markowitz, Clay S. Tucker, Elsita Kiekebusch, Toni Klemm, Lindsey Middleton, Adrienne Wootten, and Michelle D. Staudinger

Abstract

Online science communities can serve as powerful platforms for advancing scientific knowledge, capacity, and outreach by increasing collaboration and information sharing among geographically distant peers, practitioners, and the public. Here, we examine the value and role of the Early Career Climate Forum (ECCF), a climate-focused online science community that is based in the United States and is dedicated to training and providing support to the next generation of climate scientists. In a survey of community users and contributors, we find that the ECCF played a unique role in providing users access to career resources as well as climate-related research and insights. Respondents also indicated that the ECCF provides them with a strong sense of community and a sense of hope for the future of climate science research. These findings highlight the importance of online science communities in shaping and supporting the next generation of scientists and practitioners working at the science–management interface on climate change issues.

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Stephen M. Strader, Alex M. Haberlie, and Alexandra G. Loitz

Abstract

This study investigates the interrelationships between National Weather Service (NWS) county warning area (CWA) tornado risk, exposure, and societal vulnerability. CWA climatological tornado risk is determined using historical tornado event data, and exposure and vulnerability are assessed by employing present-day population, housing, socioeconomic, and demographic metrics. In addition, tornado watches, warnings, warning lead times, false alarm warnings, and unwarned tornado reports are examined in relation to CWA risk, exposure, and vulnerability. Results indicate that southeastern U.S. CWAs are more susceptible to tornado impacts because of their greater tornado frequencies and larger damage footprints intersecting more vulnerable populations (e.g., poverty and manufactured homes). Midwest CWAs experience fewer tornadoes relative to Southeast and southern plains CWAs but encompass faster tornado translational speeds and greater population densities where higher concentrations of vulnerable individuals often reside. Northern plains CWAs contain longer-tracked tornadoes on average and larger percentages of vulnerable elderly and rural persons. Southern plains CWAs experience the highest tornado frequencies in general and contain larger percentages of minority Latinx populations. Many of the most socially vulnerable CWAs have shorter warning lead times and greater percentages of false alarm warnings and unwarned tornadoes. Study findings provide NWS forecasters with an improved understanding of the relationships between tornado risk, exposure, vulnerability, and warning outcomes within their respective CWAs. Findings may also assist NWS Weather Forecast Offices and the Warning Decision Training Division with developing training materials aimed at increasing NWS forecaster knowledge of how tornado risk, exposure, and vulnerability factors influence local tornado disaster potential.

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