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Gabrielle Wong-Parodi and Irina Feygina

Abstract

Climate-related disasters are on the rise, with a 44% increase between 1994 and 2013, and the population at risk is ever growing. The need to help people protect their well-being, families, and homes is of utmost importance. We surveyed individuals impacted by Hurricane Matthew in real time in October 2016 to explore the role of mental health, self-efficacy, social support, and evacuation and attitudinal factors on disaster response. We asked, “How much do 1) evacuation-relevant factors (reported evacuation zone, awareness of risk, and source of warning); 2) attitudes (climate- and environment-related perceptions and intentions); and 3) psychosocial factors (mental health, self-efficacy, and social support) contribute to engagement in protective behaviors (evacuation and preparation)?” We found 1) greater immediate exposure to risk increases protective behaviors; 2) climate and environmental concern increase preparation, but not evacuation; and 3) people with greater mental health and self-efficacy respond in ways commensurate with risk, taking protective actions if they live within a reported evacuation zone and not if they are not at risk, while those with lower mental health and self-efficacy do not respond in line with risks. These findings paint a complex picture of disaster response and suggest that preparedness efforts need to go beyond simple policy prescriptions (e.g., mandated evacuations) or improved messaging toward a focus on developing comprehensive programs that build human capital and provide people with psychological and social resources in advance of, during, and after an extreme weather event.

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Stephen M. Strader and Walker S. Ashley

Abstract

Research has illustrated that tornado disaster potential and impact severity are controlled by hazard risk and underlying physical and social vulnerabilities. Previous vulnerability studies have suggested that an important driver of disaster consequence is the type of housing affected by tornadic winds. This study employs a Monte Carlo tornado simulation tool; mobile home location information derived from finescale, land-parcel data; and census enumerations of socioeconomic vulnerability factors to assess the tornado impact probability for one of the most wind hazard–susceptible demographics in the United States: mobile home residents. Comparative analyses between Alabama and Kansas are employed to highlight regional (i.e., Southeast vs Great Plains) differences in mobile home tornado risk, exposure, and vulnerability. Tornado impact potential on mobile homes is 4.5 times (350%) greater in Alabama than in Kansas because Alabama, in comparison to Kansas, is represented by 1) a greater number of mobile homes and 2) a more sprawling mobile home distribution. Findings reveal that the Southeast’s mobile home residents are one of the most socioeconomically and demographically marginalized populations in the United States and are more susceptible to tornado impact and death than illustrated in prior research. Policy makers, engineers, and members of integrated warning teams (i.e., National Weather Service, media, emergency managers, and first responders) should use these findings to initiate a dialogue and construct interdisciplinary actions aimed at improving societal and individual resilience before, during, and after hazardous weather events.

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Robert Munroe, Burrell Montz, and Scott Curtis

Abstract

Storm surge has been identified as a dangerous and damaging coastal hazard that is expected to be exacerbated by rising sea levels. However, storm surge research and applications are relatively new and poorly understood compared to other storm-related hazards. This survey-based research of emergency support personnel across eastern North Carolina aims to connect ongoing research with the needs of storm surge users. Results indicate that emergency managers and other emergency support functions depend on storm surge information to assess and communicate risk, to educate the public, to evacuate the public, or for long-term resilience and recovery planning. They were generally satisfied with the type and timing of currently available surge information, but desired additional types of surge information (i.e., timing) and longer lead times.

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Andrzej Ceglarz, Rasmus E. Benestad, and Zbigniew W. Kundzewicz

Abstract

There has been increasing scientific evidence related to climate change and its attribution, impacts, and possibilities of mitigation. Yet, climate contrarianism still persists. This paper concentrates on Poland and Norway—two fossil fuel giants that represent essential differences on climate contrarianism. In Norway there is a broad social and political consensus about the attribution and importance of climate change and a motivation to undertake climate change mitigation measures, whereas in Poland the inconvenient truth on anthropogenic climate change remains particularly inconvenient. By taking a qualitative approach, this paper discusses different drivers of climate contrarianism in both countries; provides examples of contrarian attitudes present in society, media, politics, and research; and compares their role in Polish and Norwegian contexts. The findings show the difficulties in defining universal factors determining contrarian attitudes, because their understanding and weight can be different among countries and a more nuanced analysis is needed to scrutinize different national contexts. The conclusion calls for more comparative research, which would combine quantitative and qualitative approaches investigating climate contrarianism.

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Matthew J. Cutler, Jennifer R. Marlon, Peter D. Howe, and Anthony Leiserowitz

Abstract

Vulnerability and resilience to extreme weather hazards are a function of diverse physical, social, and psychological factors. Previous research has focused on individual factors that influence public perceptions of hazards, such as politics, ideology, and cultural worldviews, as well as on socioeconomic and demographic factors that affect geographically based vulnerability, environmental justice, and community resilience. Few studies have investigated individual socioeconomic and racial/ethnic differences in public risk perceptions of the health hazards associated with extreme heat events, which are now increasing due to climate change. This study uses multilevel statistical modeling to investigate individual- and geographic-level (e.g., census tract level and regional) social, economic, and biophysical influences on public perceptions of the adverse health impacts associated with heat waves. Political orientation and climate change beliefs are the strongest predictors of heat wave health risk perceptions; household income also has a relatively strong and consistent effect. Contextual socioeconomic vulnerability, measured with a social vulnerability index at the census tract level, also significantly affects heat wave risk perceptions. The strong influence of political orientation and climate beliefs on perceptions of adverse health impacts from heat waves suggests that ideological predispositions can increase vulnerability to climate change.

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Alistair D. Clulow, Sheldon Strydom, Bryan Grant, Michael J. Savage, and Colin S. Everson

Abstract

Central Africa is a global lightning hot spot, with the tropical areas including the top 10 highest lightning-flash-rate densities in the world. There are no lightning-locating-system networks available across most of Africa, however, and it becomes necessary to make use of real-time, ground-based lightning early warning systems. Such a system was established in the southern Congo basin at the Kinsevere copper mine and has been operational since early 2015. The early warning system includes an electrical-field meter and a lightning-flash sensor, which produce two states of warning. Two years of data (July 2015–June 2016 and July 2016–July 2017) indicated a clear annual and daily peak in lightning activity, with an average lightning warning duration of 1.18 h and a maximum storm duration of 8.60 h. The seasonal flash occurrence was reasonably constant over the two years but was variable at a monthly level during the lightning season. Analysis of alarm state showed that the majority of events start with an escalation to an alarm state of 2 but that, over two years, 69.3% escalated further to an alarm state of 3. Alarm-duration analysis indicated that more time was spent in alarm state 3 (warning) than alarm state 2 (caution). It was concluded that a single warning state would be suitable at this location and would simplify the warning system but that appropriate alarm-activation thresholds in electric field and flash distance need further assessment.

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Kathleen Sherman-Morris, Holly Lussenden, Alexandra Kent, and Caroline MacDonald

Abstract

NOAA has recently placed greater emphasis on implementing social science findings into its products, but perceptions of social science research among National Weather Service offices have not been gauged. To this end, Warning Coordination Meteorologists (WCMs) were surveyed regarding the importance of social science research themes to their local offices. WCMs were also asked to rate their knowledge about several prominent topics and to state their opinions about potential problem issues, such as false alarms, hype, and message inconsistency. Sixty-one WCMs responded to the survey, representing each U.S. climate region. The respondents were favorable toward NOAA’s attention to social science, and nearly half have contacted or have been contacted by a social scientist. WCMs rated research themes that addressed how to communicate a message effectively and why individuals do not take action during a warning as being more important. They also rated their knowledge of why someone does not take action during a warning as being the lowest. WCMs expressed agreement that hype, inconsistency, and false alarms are “key problems” for their areas, but rated false alarms the least problematic. They also expressed agreement that inconsistency and false alarms influence credibility, as well as the precautions people take during warnings. Finally, respondents described their own most pressing research questions. The importance of behavior and communication was repeated throughout the open-ended questions. Prominent themes included how to make the message more effective and how to get people to respond in an appropriate way upon receiving warning messages.

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Neda Kazemi, Maryam Sharifzadeh, and Mostafa Ahmadvand

Abstract

Cold stress is a major environmental constraint that limits nut productivity worldwide. Late spring frost is identified as a yield-reducing factor in Persian walnut production as well. Despite significant improvements in cold and freezing tolerance methods, orchardists have not taken advantage of these recommended protection methods. This study examined determinants of walnut orchardists’ frost-protection behavior, using the extended theory of planned behavior (TPB) as a conceptual framework. Based on TPB assumptions, frost-protection behavior is mediated by a series of constructs. The purpose of this research was to examine the role of TPB variables (extended by orchard-system profile) in meeting the necessities of performing active and passive methods of frost protection. A total of 91 orchardists completed a baseline questionnaire that included the TPB constructs. The present investigation was carried out in the major walnut growing site of Sepidan County, western Fars Province, Iran. The results from the hierarchical multiple regression showed that the behavioral attitude, perceived behavioral control (PBC), intention, orchard-system profile, and interaction of orchard-system features and PBC were significant predictors of frost-protection behavior in the prospective sample. Results of the present study provided evidence that the extended TPB is a useful framework for understanding orchardists’ frost-protection behavior.

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Johanna Nalau, Susanne Becken, Johanna Schliephack, Meg Parsons, Cilla Brown, and Brendan Mackey

Abstract

Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA) is increasingly being advocated as a climate adaptation approach that can deliver multiple benefits to communities. EbA scholarship argues that community-based projects can strengthen those ecosystems that deliver critical services to communities and in doing so enhance community resilience. In particular, the inclusion of indigenous and traditional knowledge (ITK) into community-based EbA projects is positioned as critical to successful climate adaptation. Yet, there is surprisingly little investigation into how ITK is being defined and incorporated into EbA initiatives. This paper critically reviews EbA literature and provides empirical examples from Vanuatu and Samoa to demonstrate the different ways ITK relates to EbA projects. We find that there is widespread recognition that ITK is important for indigenous and local communities and can be employed successfully in EbA. However, this recognition is more aspirational than practical and is not being necessarily translated into ITK-informed or ITK-driven EbA projects. ITK should not be conceptualized simply as a collection of local environmental information that is integrated with Western scientific knowledge. Instead, ITK is part of nested knowledge systems (information–practices–worldviews) of indigenous peoples. This knowledge includes local natural resource management, sociocultural governance structures, social norms, spiritual beliefs, and historical and contemporary experiences of colonial dispossession and marginalization. At present, most EbA projects focus on the provision of information to main decision-makers only; however, since ITK is held collectively, it is essential that entire communities are included in ITK EbA projects. There is a huge potential for researchers and ITK holders to coproduce knowledge that would be best placed to drive climate adaptation in a changing world.

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Barrett F. Gutter, Kathleen Sherman-Morris, and Michael E. Brown

Abstract

A great deal of research has been conducted regarding tornado warnings and protective actions taken, including some studies in which respondents were presented with hypothetical tornado warning scenarios. Much less research has been conducted in which respondents were presented with tornado watch scenarios, even though they cover a larger area and longer time period, thus potentially disrupting a far greater number of people. To address this lack of research, surveys were used to determine the influence of severe weather watches on planned Saturday afternoon and evening activities away from the immediate vicinity of the respondent’s home. Respondents were presented a hypothetical watch scenario, in which they had some activity planned for later that afternoon or evening. Each respondent rated his or her likelihood to continue an activity depending on the severity of the watch and the length of the activity. Respondents were provided information about each hypothetical watch including duration and primary threats. Responses from the survey indicated that as the severity of the watch or the length of the activity increased, the likelihood of the respondent continuing the activity decreased. For a severe thunderstorm watch, a tornado watch, and a particularly dangerous situation (PDS) tornado watch, 36.1%, 51.2%, and 80.2% of the respondents, respectively, would not continue an activity lasting 30 min or longer.

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