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Steve Rayner

Abstract

In the complex institutional and physical infrastructure nexus of South Australia, weather and climate information is highly valued by freshwater managers and users. But different users focus on very different time scales. Recent changes in water rights and technology, driven by the Millennium Drought, enable agricultural users to focus on real-time monitoring and relatively short-term forecasts (3–5 days ahead). A wide range of users make extensive use of the full 7-day weather forecasts and there is awareness of, but not reliance on, seasonal outlooks. These are widely viewed as providing “background” indications and are seldom directly used in decision-making. While concern about climate change is driving scientific research on downscaling climate impact models for the region, there are different views among decision-makers about the usefulness of these for adaptation. All forms of weather and climate information appear to be best integrated into decision-making when incorporated into sector-specific models and decision-support tools alongside other relevant variables. However, there remains something of a mismatch between scientific aspirations to improve the skill of seasonal and long-term climate forecasting and the temporal rhythms of water-resource decision-making.

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Micah J. Hewer and William A. Gough

Abstract

Because of the perceived weather sensitivity of park visitation in Ontario, Canada, several previous assessments have examined the impact of climate change. However, these assessments have predominantly been based on modeling approaches (regression analysis). The current study uses a multiyear temporal climate-analog approach to reassess the impact of climate change on visitation to Pinery Provincial Park in southwestern Ontario based on the observed effects of historical climatic anomalies on park visitation from 2000 to 2016. Consideration was also given to major events such as the North American terror attacks on 11 September 2001 and the confounding effect that events such as this may have had on the results. There were no statistically significant relationships (at the 95% confidence level) between seasonal climatic anomalies and park visitation in Ontario during the winter or spring seasons. There was a weak statistical relationship between anomalously warm summer seasons and park visitation, when compared to summer seasons with climatically normal temperatures; however, the presence of nonclimatic variables may have confounded these results, producing a false positive. Autumn-season park visitation was most sensitive to climatic anomalies, with the warmest temperatures causing visitation to increase by 37%, the wettest conditions causing visitation to decrease by 11%, and the driest conditions resulting in a 24% increase. These observed seasonal temperature anomalies represent temporal climate analogs for projected climate change across the span of the twenty-first century. Thus, the results of this study suggest that previous assessments may have overestimated the positive impacts of projected climate change on park visitation in this region.

Open access
Xianhua Wu, Zhe Xu, Hui Liu, Ji Guo, and Lei Zhou

Abstract

To investigate the general principle of the impact of tropical cyclones on employment, explore the reason for the divergence among existing research conclusions, and put forward some suggestions for post-disaster reconstruction, this paper employs meta-regression analysis to study the impacts of tropical cyclones on the quantity of labor employed and employee remuneration from four aspects: industry dimension, time dimension, income dimension, and tropical cyclone intensity. The results are as follows: 1) Tropical cyclones create an impact on the intensity of changes in employment remuneration in the primary industry, and the impact in the secondary industry is greater than that in the tertiary industry. 2) In the short term, the impact of tropical cyclones on employment is negative and the impact intensity is strong, whereas in the medium and long terms, the impact is positive and the intensity of impact decreases. 3) Although tropical cyclones increase the quantity of labor employed from low-income groups, they decrease their employment remuneration. In addition, the impact of disasters on the number of employed high-income groups is relatively small compared to that of low-income groups. 4) A higher category of tropical cyclone results in a greater positive impact on the employment of labor force. Accordingly, the following suggestions are made: 1) The government should issue corresponding policies to provide “temporary disaster subsidies” for disaster-stricken low-income groups. 2) Insurance companies should introduce commercial insurance concerning “post-disaster employment” for employers to purchase before any disaster occurs so as to offer disaster-stricken employees compensation.

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Johannes Möllmann, Matthias Buchholz, and Oliver Musshoff

Abstract

Weather derivatives are considered a promising agricultural risk management tool. Station-based meteorological indices typically provide the data underlying these instruments. However, the main shortcoming of these weather derivatives is an imperfect correlation between the weather index and the yield of the insured crop, called basis risk. This paper considers three available remotely sensed vegetation health (VH) indices, namely, the vegetation condition index (VCI), the temperature condition index (TCI), and the vegetation health index (VHI), as indices for weather derivatives in a German case study. We investigated the correlation and period of highest correlation with winter wheat yield. Moreover, we analyzed whether the use of remotely sensed VH indices for weather derivatives can reduce basis risk and thus improve the performance of weather derivatives. The two commonly used meteorological indices, precipitation and temperature sums, were employed as benchmarks. Quantile regression and index value simulation were used for the design and pricing of the weather derivatives. The analysis for the selected farms and corresponding counties in northeastern Germany revealed that, on average, the VHI resulted in the highest correlation with winter wheat yield, and VHI-based weather derivatives were also superior in terms of the hedging effectiveness. The total periods of the highest correlations ranged from the beginning of April to the end of July. VHI- and VCI-based weather derivatives led to statistically significant reductions of basis risk, compared to the benchmarks. Our results indicate that the VHI-based weather derivatives can be useful alternatives to meteorological indices, especially in regions with sparser weather station networks.

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Jamie Hannaford, Kevin Collins, Sophie Haines, and Lucy J. Barker

Abstract

Drought is widely written about as a complex, multifaceted phenomenon, with complexity arising not just from biophysical drivers, but also human understanding and experiences of drought and its impacts. This has led to a proliferation of different drought definitions and indicators, creating a challenge for the design of drought monitoring and early warning (MEW) systems, which are a key component of drought preparedness. Here, we report on social learning workshops conducted in the United Kingdom aimed at improving the design and operation of drought MEW systems as part of a wider international project including parallel events in the United States and Australia. We highlight key themes for MEW design and use: “types” of droughts, indicators and impacts, uncertainty, capacity and decision-making, communications, and governance. We shed light on the complexity of drought through the multiple framings of the problem by different actors, and how this influences their needs for MEW. Our findings suggest that MEW systems need to embrace this complexity and strive for consistent messaging while also tailoring information for a wide range of audiences in terms of the drought characteristics, temporal and spatial scales, and impacts that are important for their particular decision-making processes. We end with recommendations to facilitate this approach.

Open access
Jason Senkbeil, Jennifer Collins, and Jacob Reed

Abstract

Hurricane Irma was one of the strongest Atlantic hurricanes in history before landfall and caused a large evacuation. A total of 155 evacuees at interstate rest areas were asked to rank their concern about damage at their residence for six different geophysical hurricane hazards. Additionally, they were asked about their perceived maximum wind speeds (PMWS) and the wind speeds at which they thought damage would occur (DW) at their residence. These wind speeds were then compared to the actual peak wind gusts (APG) nearest to each resident’s location. Results show a significantly greater concern for wind and storm size, compared to other hazards (tornadoes, rainfall/flooding, storm surge, falling trees). The mean PMWS of evacuees was greater than the mean APG, suggesting widespread misperception of wind speeds. Furthermore, the mean APG was less than the mean DW, and the mean PMWS was also higher than the DW. Additional tests found no significant differences in wind perception between residents with previous storm experiences and no experience, and no significant differences between those who resided in mandatory evacuation zip codes and those who did not. These results suggest that wind speed risk is poorly understood, even though it is a high concern for evacuees from hurricanes. The communication of wind speed risk in forecasts should possibly be modified by placing greater emphasis on postlandfall impacts, wind speed decay after landfall, and wind speeds that cause damage to different types of residences.

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Markus Enenkel, Daniel Osgood, Martha Anderson, Bristol Powell, Jessica McCarty, Christopher Neigh, Mark Carroll, Margaret Wooten, Greg Husak, Christopher Hain, and Molly Brown

Abstract

The goal of drought-related weather index insurance (WII) is to protect smallholder farmers against the risk of weather shocks and to increase their agricultural productivity. Estimates of precipitation and vegetation greenness are the two dominant satellite datasets. However, ignoring additional moisture- and energy-related processes that influence the response of vegetation to rainfall leads to an incomplete representation of the hydrologic cycle. This study evaluates the added value of considering multiple independent satellite-based variables to design, calibrate, and validate weather insurance indices on the African continent. The satellite data include two rainfall datasets, soil moisture, the evaporative stress index (ESI), and vegetation greenness. We limit artificial advantages by resampling all datasets to the same spatial (0.25°) and temporal (monthly) resolution, although datasets with a higher spatial resolution might have an added value, if considered as the single source of information for localized applications. A higher correlation coefficient between the moisture-focused variables and the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), an indicator for vegetation vigor, provides evidence for the datasets’ capability to capture agricultural drought conditions on the ground. The Climate Hazards Group Infrared Precipitation with Stations (CHIRPS) rainfall dataset, soil moisture, and ESI show higher correlations with the (lagged) NDVI in large parts of Africa, for different land covers and various climate zones, than the African Rainfall Climatology, version 2 (ARC2), rainfall dataset, which is often used in WII. A comparison to drought years as reported by farmers in Ethiopia, Senegal, and Zambia indicates a high “hit rate” of all satellite-derived anomalies regarding the detection of severe droughts but limitations regarding moderate drought events.

Open access
Astrid Kause, Tarlise Townsend, and Wolfgang Gaissmaier

Abstract

The public debate around climate change is increasingly polarized. At the same time, the scientific consensus about the causes and consequences of climate change is strong. This inconsistency poses challenges for mitigation and adaptation efforts. The translation of uncertain numerical climate projections into simpler but ambiguous verbal frames may contribute to this polarization. In two experimental studies, we investigated 1) how “communicators” verbally frame a confidence interval regarding projected change in winter precipitation due to climate change (N = 512) and 2) how “listeners” interpret these verbal frames (N = 385). Both studies were preregistered at the Open Science Framework. Communicators who perceived the change as more severe chose a concerned rather than an unconcerned verbal frame. Furthermore, communicators’ verbal frames were associated with their more general beliefs, like political affiliation and environmental values. Listeners exposed to the concerned frame perceived climate change–induced precipitation change to be more severe than those receiving the unconcerned frame. These results are in line with two pilot studies (N = 298 and N = 393, respectively). Underlying general beliefs about climate and the environment likely shape public communication about climate in subtle ways, and thus verbal framing by the media, policymakers, and peers may contribute to public polarization on climate change.

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Matthew Cotton and Emma Stevens

Abstract

The concept of adaptation is becoming part of mainstream public discourse on climate change. Yet the diversity, complexity, and novelty of the adaptation concept itself leads to interpretive flexibility, differing public understanding of (and engagement with) adaptation strategies, and hence differentiated policy responses. The boundary work of communicative practices and public understanding of the adaptation concept therefore requires empirical analysis in different cases and contexts. This study employs Q-methodology (a combined quantitative–qualitative social research method) to reveal the typologies of perspectives that emerge around the adaptation concept among a diverse group of citizen-stakeholders in the United Kingdom. Four such typologies are identified under the labels 1) top-down climate action, 2) collective action on climate change, 3) optimistic, values-focused adaptation, and 4) adaptation skepticism. The division between these perspectives reveals a perceived “responsibility gap” between the governmental–institutional and/or individual–community levels. Across the emergent discourses we find a consensual call for a multisector, multiscalar, and multistakeholder-led approach that posits adaptation as a contemporary, intragenerational problem, with a strong emphasis upon managing extreme weather events, and not as an abstract future problem. By attending to these public discourses in climate policy, this presents a potential means to lessen such a responsibility gap.

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Wesley Tourangeau, Kate Sherren, Carlisle Kent, and Bertrum H. MacDonald

Abstract

Producer organizations representing Canada’s farm and livestock sectors are powerful change agents and advocates for their industries, particularly during challenging times such as climate- or weather-related hardships. Such organizations have a complex role: engaging with policy-makers, as well as their memberships and the public, to pursue the interests of their specific communities. This paper includes an examination of how farm producer organizations communicate about climate and weather to these various audiences, and the specific needs and recommendations they advance. Of particular interest are commodities related to pasture-based grazing, which is underrepresented in the climate adaptation literature. A collection of 95 publicly available documents is analyzed, representing a snapshot of climate- and weather-related public and policy engagement of Canadian and Albertan farm and livestock producer organizations from 2010 to 2015. Qualitative coding by scale, commodity, and audience revealed three significant patterns within this exploratory study. First, while national “umbrella” organizations speak climate to government, Alberta-based livestock/forage organizations speak to their members with a focus on weather. Second, while the two national umbrella organizations examined are politically divergent, they appear to be united on the topic of climate change. Third, common ground was also found between climate and weather discourses around on-farm management, specifically rotational grazing. These three patterns reveal a disjointed dialogue within the Canadian farm and livestock sectors on topics of climate adaptation and mitigation, as well as opportunities for future cooperation, and the need for further research on farm organization beliefs and their capacity to create/manage climate knowledge.

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