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Igor Gómez, Enric Valor, Sergio Molina, Raquel Niclòs, and Vicente Caselles

Abstract

Weather forecasts affect many persons’ lives and are used by the general public on a daily basis. However, they are not perfect, and there is an uncertainty associated with the current weather forecasts; users should be aware of this uncertainty. Previous research analyzes the perceptions, uses, and interpretations of uncertainty of Spanish undergraduate students. This study continues with this research line, but we investigate the degree of confidence and communication preferences of students enrolled in three meteorology-related subjects taught at two universities in Spain. We evaluated to what extent students trust in the current weather forecasts and analyzed how students are aware of the uncertainty associated with the forecasts considering different lead times. In addition, we assessed how students value the forecast of several weather elements as well as the students’ preferences for deterministic versus nondeterministic forecasts under two weather situations, with different degree of complexity in the forecast communication. A Google Form questionnaire was developed to address these issues. The survey was conducted in 2018/19, and 101 participants anonymously filled out the survey. Participants were enrolled in three different subjects taught in the degree in marine sciences at the University of Alicante and the degrees in environmental sciences and physics at the University of Valencia. Results show that students have a well-formed opinion of weather forecasts, both for confidence and in relation to the trend found in the current weather forecasts toward less accurate forecasts for larger lead times. For students’ preferences for deterministic versus nondeterministic forecasts, a significant majority of participants prefer weather forecasts that incorporate some uncertainty; a minority prefer single-valued (deterministic) forecasts. In comparing our results with those found in previous studies in different countries and contexts, similar outcomes are observed in general, but some differences are highlighted as well.

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Temi Emmanuel Ologunorisa, Adebayo Oluwole Eludoyin, and Bola Lateef

Abstract

Flood-induced fatalities are among the more poorly reported effects of flood disasters in many developing countries because of poor data inventory and management. Specific objectives of this study are to assess the spatial and temporal variations in flood fatalities in Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa. The study explored available datasets from the National (Nigerian) Meteorological and Emergency Management Agencies as well as those from the Dartmouth Flood Observatory (DFO) at the University of Colorado Boulder and complemented those with scattered reports from Nigerian newspapers to achieve the stated objectives. Using a mix of statistical and geographical information analysis approaches, the study showed that most of Nigeria is vulnerable to flood, given the nature of the dominant climate that often results in “medium” to “high” rainfall intensity (i.e., rainfall = 38.1–50.1 mm or > 50.1 mm in 24 h, respectively), inadequate settlement planning/land-use and land-cover management, and dam failure. Analysis of the frequency of the flood–fatality relationship indicates an increase in flood fatalities by 4.7% relative to flood cases between 1985 and 2017. The study complemented the results with information from newspapers and some other non-peer-reviewed documents (especially reports from relevant agencies) and revealed the need for a better flood information management system in the country, especially since the national database and DFO records were not the same. The study concluded that flood fatalities are on the increase but are poorly reported. It thus recommends improved information systems for flood and other disasters and their fatalities in the country.

Significance Statement

The purpose of this study is to reveal the state of information on flood disasters in a typical sub-Saharan African country. This is important because information about the distribution and trend of fatalities associated with flood disasters is required for sustainable mitigation planning globally. Our results provide a guide to understanding the distribution and associated factors of flood disasters as well as the contributions of informal (newspaper) sources to the inventory of relevant records.

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Zouheir Mighri, Suleman Sarwar, and Samuel Asumadu Sarkodie

Abstract

Forests are considered the key factor in controlling climate change and extreme climatic events due to their natural role in carbon abatement. However, twenty-first-century economic development is characterized by intensive resource exploitation, energy intensity, population, and urbanization, and hence it is 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 the past decade of China’s carbon emissions while accounting for economic development, urbanization, and fossil fuels. We use several spatial techniques to ascertain the carbon abatement effect of the 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, and such policies might be helpful to generate new sources of employment and pollution reduction in China.

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Jonathan Salerno, Karen Bailey, Jeremy Diem, Bronwen Konecky, Ryan Bridges, Shamilah Namusisi, Robert Bitariho, Michael Palace, and Joel Hartter

Abstract

People’s observations of climate change and its impacts, mediated by cultures and capacities, shape adaptive responses. Adaptation is critical in regions of rainfed smallholder agriculture where changing rainfall patterns have disproportionate impacts on livelihoods, yet scientific climate data to inform responses are often sparse. Despite calls for better integration of local knowledge into adaptation frameworks, there is a lack of empirical evidence linking both smallholder climate observations and scientific data to on-farm outcomes. We combine smallholder observations of past seasonal rainfall timing with satellite-based rainfall estimates in Uganda to explore whether farmers’ ability to track climate patterns is associated with higher crop yields. We show that high-fidelity tracking, or alignment of farmer recall with recent rainfall patterns, predicts higher yields in the present year, suggesting that farmers may translate their cumulative record of environmental knowledge into productive on-farm decisions, such as crop selection and timing of planting. However, tracking of less-recent rainfall (i.e., 1–2 decades in the past) does not predict higher yields in the present, while climate data indicate significant trends over this period toward warmer and wetter seasons. Our findings demonstrate the value of smallholder knowledge systems in filling information gaps in climate science while suggesting ways to improve adaptive capacity to climate change.

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Joshua J. Hatzis and Kim E. Klockow-McClain

Abstract

On 31 May 2013, an extremely large and violent tornado hit near the town of El Reno, Oklahoma, a small town in the Oklahoma City metropolitan area. The size and intensity of this tornado, coupled with the fact that it was heading toward Oklahoma City, prompted local broadcasters to warn residents to evacuate their homes and head south if they could not shelter belowground. This warning led to a large-scale evacuation of the metropolitan area and massive traffic jams on the interstates and major highways that could have caused casualties in the hundreds if the tornado had not dissipated before reaching Oklahoma City. The focus of this study was to understand the magnitude of the 31 May 2013 evacuation through the evaluation of traffic volume data and to determine how frequently such evacuations occur in Oklahoma City and other metropolitan areas. We found that of the six metropolitan areas tested, only Oklahoma City had mass anomalous traffic reversal (ATR) days (days with a mass evacuation signal) with 31 May 2013 having the largest mass ATR day by far. Despite the rarity of mass ATR days, the potential consequences of a large, violent tornado hitting gridlocked traffic is significant, and we recommend that communicators encourage more local sheltering options.

Significance Statement

On the evening of 31 May 2013, a large-scale evacuation of the Oklahoma City metropolitan area occurred as a result of a very large and dangerous tornado that had formed near the town of El Reno and was moving east toward Oklahoma City. If the tornado had not dissipated before it reached the city it could have caused hundreds of casualties as it passed over gridlocked roads. We sought to understand the frequency of such mass evacuations and found that no other event in six metropolitan areas studied during 2011–18 could compare. While such evacuations fortunately appear rare, more work should be done to understand why they happen when they do and to connect individuals with better local sheltering options.

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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 United States, 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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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 over 25 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 Oklahoma 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 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 million 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.

Open access
Staci M. Zavattaro and Kelly A. Stevens

Abstract

Television station and on-air talent marketing and branding has been studied with increasing attention because 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. From these interviews, we find 1) personal branding to build trust is paramount, 2) social media are game changers for personal branding, and 3) 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.

Significance Statement

The purpose of our study is to examine how on-air meteorologists understand the role that personal branding plays—if any at all—in helping them deliver information to viewers. In previous research, Daniels and Loggins noted that, as the landscape for communicating lifesaving information changes, understanding how on-air meteorologists understand their roles and personal identities becomes paramount. If weather is a product, the people delivering the information become part of the product and overall brand strategy, according to Daniels and Loggins. Our exploratory study indicates that personal branding poses some opportunities and challenges for on-air meteorologists, who sometimes see an internal conflict between station branding strategies and their roles as scientists.

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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
Linda Menk, Stefano Terzi, Marc Zebisch, Erich Rome, Daniel Lückerath, Katharina Milde, and Stefan Kienberger

Abstract

Shifting from effect-oriented toward cause-oriented and systemic approaches in sustainable climate change adaptation requires a solid understanding of the climate-related and societal causes behind climate risks. Thus, capturing, systemizing, and prioritizing factors contributing to climate risks are essential for developing cause-oriented climate risk and vulnerability assessments (CRVA). Impact chains (IC) are conceptual models used to capture hazard, vulnerability, and exposure factors that lead to a specific risk. IC modeling includes a participatory stakeholder phase and an operational quantification phase. Although ICs are widely implemented to systematically capture risk processes, they still show methodological gaps concerning, for example, the integration of dynamic feedback or balanced stakeholder involvement. Such gaps usually only become apparent in practical applications, and there is currently no systematic perspective on common challenges and methodological needs. Therefore, we reviewed 47 articles applying IC and similar CRVA methods that consider the cause–effect dynamics governing risk. We provide an overview of common challenges and opportunities as a roadmap for future improvements. We conclude that IC should move from a linear-like to an impact web–like representation of risk to integrate cause–effect dynamics. Qualitative approaches are based on significant stakeholder involvement to capture expert-, place-, and context-specific knowledge. The integration of IC into quantifiable, executable models is still highly underexplored because of a limited understanding of systems, data, evaluation options, and other uncertainties. Ultimately, using IC to capture the underlying complex processes behind risk supports effective, long-term, and sustainable climate change adaptation.

Open access