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Tomáš Púčik
,
David Rýva
,
Miloslav Staněk
,
Miroslav Šinger
,
Pieter Groenemeijer
,
Georg Pistotnik
,
Rainer Kaltenberger
,
Miloš Zich
,
Jan Koláček
, and
Alois Holzer

Abstract

A violent tornado occurred in Czechia on 24 June 2021, killing six and causing at least 576 injuries. There were more indirect than direct injuries. The tornado was rated 4 on the international Fujita scale (IF4) using a draft version of the IF scale. This was the first violent tornado in Czechia and one of only 17 violent, i.e., (I)F4 or higher, tornadoes that occurred in Europe since 1950. The tornado reached a width of 3.5 km, the widest on record in Europe. The case presents an important opportunity to investigate the impacts of such a strong tornado in the area, where they are rare, no tornado warnings are issued, and where the building standards are different from the typically investigated tornadoes in the United States. We discuss challenges in organizing the damage survey, which took 3 days and involved meteorologists from three countries. A wind damage survey guide to aid mitigating these was written by the European Severe Storms Laboratory and initiated the development of a wind damage surveying app. The damage survey showed that most of the inhabited buildings built using heavy masonry and rigid ceilings did not collapse in IF2/3 winds, but only with IF4 winds. Eyewitness reports collected after the tornado show that many people were not aware of the risk associated with the tornado. Eventually, most people tried to shelter in the most secure part of the house, but it was often too late. This case highlights the need for better communication of tornado risk to the public in Europe.

Open access
Free access
Deniss J. Martinez
,
Alison M. Meadow
,
Beth Rose Middleton Manning
, and
Julie Maldonado

Abstract

Climate and weather-related disasters in California illustrate the need for immediate climate change action—both mitigation to reduce impacts and adaptation to protect our communities, relatives, and the ecosystems we depend upon. Indigenous frontline communities face even greater threats from climate impacts due to historical and political legacies of environmental injustice. Climate change adaptation actions have proven challenging to implement as communities struggle to access necessary climate data at appropriate scales, identify effective strategies that address community priorities, and obtain resources to act at a whole-community level. In this paper, we present three examples of Indigenous communities in California that have used a climate justice approach to climate change adaptation. These communities are drawing upon community knowledge and expertise to address the challenges of adaptation planning and taking actions that center community priorities. The three cases address emergency preparation and response, cultural burning and fire management, and community organizing and social cohesion. Across these spheres, they illustrate the ways in which a community-based and climate justice-focused approach to adaptation can be effective in addressing current threats while also addressing the legacy of imposed, socially constructed vulnerability and environmental injustices. Because we recognize the need for multiple knowledges and skills in adaptation actions, we include recommendations that have emerged based on what has been learned through these long-standing and engaged participatory research collaborations for climate scientists who wish to contribute to climate justice-focused adaptation efforts by using scientific data to support—not supplant—community efforts, target funding toward genuine community engagement and adaptation actions, and become aware of the historical and political legacies that created the climate vulnerabilities and injustices evident today.

Open access
Juan A. Añel
,
Celia Pérez-Souto
,
Susana Bayo-Besteiro
,
Luis Prieto-Godino
,
Hannah Bloomfield
,
Alberto Troccoli
,
Laura de
, and
la Torre

Abstract

In 2021, the energy sector was put at risk by extreme weather in many different ways: North America and Spain suffered heavy winter storms that led to the collapse of the electricity network; California specifically experienced heavy droughts and heat-wave conditions, causing the operations of hydropower stations to halt; floods caused substantial damage to energy infrastructure in central Europe, Australia, and China throughout the year, and unusual wind drought conditions decreased wind power production in the United Kingdom by almost 40% during summer. The total economic impacts of these extreme weather events are estimated at billions of U.S. dollars. Here we review and assess in some detail the main extreme weather events that impacted the energy sector in 2021 worldwide, discussing some of the most relevant case studies and the meteorological conditions that led to them. We provide a perspective on their impacts on electricity generation, transmission, and consumption, and summarize estimations of economic losses.

Open access
Claire L. Little
,
David M. Schultz
,
Belay B. Yimer
, and
Anna L. Beukenhorst

Abstract

Although many people believe their pain fluctuates with weather conditions, both weather and pain may be associated with time spent outside. For example, pleasant weather may mean that people spend more time outside doing physical activity and are exposed to the weather, leading to more (or less) pain, and poor weather or severe pain may keep people inside, sedentary, and not exposed to the weather. We conducted a smartphone study where participants with chronic pain reported daily pain severity, as well as time spent outside. We address the relationship between four weather variables (temperature, dewpoint temperature, pressure, and wind speed) and pain by proposing a three-step approach to untangle their effects: (i) propose a set of plausible directed acyclic graphs (DAGs) that account for potential roles of time spent outside (e.g., collider, effect modifier, mediator); (ii) analyze the compatibility of the observed data with the assumed model; and (iii) identify the most plausible model by combining evidence from the observed data and domain-specific knowledge. We found that the data do not support time spent outside as a collider or mediator of the relationship between weather variables and pain. On the other hand, time spent outside modifies the effect between temperature and pain, as well as wind speed and pain, with the effect being absent on days that participants spent inside and present if they spent some or all of the day outside. Our results show the utility of using directed acyclic graphs for studying causal inference.

Significance Statement

Three-quarters of people living with chronic pain believe that weather influences their pain. However, people staying inside would not be exposed to the weather outside, and good weather may mean that people are more active outside, leading to more or less pain. To obtain data to calculate how the amount of time spent outside affects the weather–pain relationship, we conducted a 15-month smartphone study collecting daily pain reports and nearby weather for nearly 5000 participants in the United Kingdom. We found that time spent outside modifies the relationship between temperature/wind speed and pain, showing the importance of accounting for other factors when investigating the association between weather and chronic pain, which could guide future research into pain mitigation and management.

Open access
Jangho Lee

Abstract

This study utilizes hourly land surface temperature (LST) data from the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) to analyze the seasonal and diurnal characteristics of surface urban heat island intensity (SUHII) across 120 largest U.S. cities and their surroundings. Distinct patterns emerge in the classification of seasonal daytime SUHII and nighttime SUHII. Specifically, the enhanced vegetation index (EVI) and albedo (ALB) play pivotal roles in influencing these temperature variations. The diurnal cycle of SUHII further reveals different trends, suggesting that climate conditions, urban and nonurban land covers, and anthropogenic activities during nighttime hours affect SUHII peaks. Exploring intracity LST dynamics, the study reveals a significant correlation between urban intensity (UI) and LST, with LST rising as UI increases. Notably, populations identified as more vulnerable by the social vulnerability index (SVI) are found in high UI regions. This results in discernible LST inequality, where the more vulnerable communities are under higher LST conditions, possibly leading to higher heat exposure. This comprehensive study accentuates the significance of tailoring city-specific climate change mitigation strategies, illuminating LST variations and their intertwined societal implications.

Open access
Julia Olson
and
Patricia Pinto da Silva

Abstract

The use of oral histories in social scientific approaches to climate change has enabled richly detailed explorations of the situated, meaning-laden dimensions of local experiences and knowledge. But “big data” approaches have been increasingly advocated as a means to scale up understandings from individual projects, through better utilizing large collections of qualitative data sources. This article considers the issues raised by such secondary analysis, using the NOAA Voices Oral History Archives, an online database with a focus on coastal communities and groups thought especially vulnerable to climatic changes. Coupling larger-scale methods such as text mining with more traditional methods such as close reading reveals variations across time and space in the ways people talk about environmental changes, underscoring how memories and experiences shape understandings and the subtlety with which these differences are articulated and culturally inscribed. Looking across multiple collections illuminates those shared understandings, points of contention, and differences between communities that might be obscured if decontextualized, showing the importance of “small data” approaches to big data to fully understand the deeply cultural understandings, perceptions, and histories of environmental changes such as climate change.

Open access
Laura Thomas-Walters
,
Matthew H. Goldberg
,
Sanguk Lee
,
Aidan Lyde
,
Seth A. Rosenthal
, and
Anthony Leiserowitz

Abstract

Extreme weather, including heat waves, poses a significant threat to ecosystems and human health. As global temperatures continue to rise, the frequency and severity of heat waves will increase. Because of this, communicating heat-related risks to the public is increasingly important. One commonly-used communication tool is the Climate Shift Index (CSI), which establishes how much more likely an extreme weather event, such as a heat wave, has been made by climate change. To test the impact of the CSI on people’s understanding of the links between climate change and extreme weather, we conducted an experiment informing 3,902 American adults that climate change made the July 2023 heat wave in the U.S. at least 5 times more likely. In addition to this standard CSI wording and 2 control messages, we also explored the effectiveness of reframing magnitude as a percentage, and whether mechanistic and attribution explanations of the relationship between climate change and heat waves further increase understanding. All treatments increased the belief that climate change made the July 2023 heat wave more likely and is making heat waves in general more likely as well. Additionally, we found that expressing the magnitude as a percentage was more effective than the standard CSI framing. We also found that just talking about the heatwave, without mentioning climate change, was enough to change beliefs.

Open access
James E. Overland
,
Elizabeth Siddon
,
Gay Sheffield
,
Thomas J. Ballinger
, and
Cody Szuwalski

Abstract

Our goal is to tie climate-scale meteorology to regional physics and ecosystem changes and demonstrate a few resulting impacts to which regional peoples are having to respond in the Alaskan Bering Strait region. The sea ice loss events in the winters of 2017/18 and 2018/19 initiated a series of marine environmental, ecological, and industrial changes through a chain of connected events from jet-stream meanders, storms, southerly winds, warmer sea temperatures, and minimum sea ice cover. Resulting impacts continue as coastal communities respond to ongoing nutritional, cultural, and economic challenges. Global warming potentially initiated these events through a weakened atmospheric Arctic Front. Ecological shifts included a transition/reorganization of the Bering Strait regional marine ecosystem. Subsequent changes included shifts in zooplankton species, increases in large-bodied, predatory fish species moving northward, an ice seal unusual mortality event, and seven consecutive years of multispecies seabird die-offs. These changes in the marine ecosystem create a serious food security concern. Ongoing impacts include large, toxic harmful algal blooms and coastal erosion. Recent changes to the maritime industries of the transboundary waters of the Bering Strait include increased industrial ship traffic, planned development of the Port of Nome, and northward proximity of foreign fishing activity. Projections for the next decades are for an increasing frequency of low sea ice years and continuing ecosystem and industrial transitions that contribute to increasing economic and food security concerns for the 16 coastal communities that compose the Bering Strait region.

Significance Statement

Extreme events in the atmosphere/oceans and resultant record sea ice minimums in 2018 and 2019 were manifested in marine ecosystem transitions and maritime industry impacts. This led to ongoing concerns over the food safety and food security of marine resources essential to the nutritional, cultural, and economic well-being of Alaskan coastal communities of the Bering Strait region. Persistent weakening of the Arctic Front may signal an increased frequency of low sea ice events into the next decades.

Open access
Free access