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Fiona Paumgarten, Bruno Locatelli, and Ed T. F. Witkowski

Abstract

More frequent and intense climate hazards, a predicted outcome of climate change, are likely to threaten existing livelihoods in rural communities, undermining households’ adaptive capacity. To support households’ efforts to manage and reduce this risk, there is a need to better understand the heterogeneity of risk within and between communities. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change revised their climate vulnerability framework to incorporate the concept of risk. This study contributes toward the operationalization of this updated framework by applying a recognized methodology to the analysis of the climate-related risk of rural households. Using a mixed-method approach, including a cluster analysis, it determined and assessed archetypical patterns of household risk. The approach was applied to 170 households in two villages, in different agroecological zones, in the Vhembe District Municipality of South Africa’s Limpopo Province. Six archetypical climate-risk profiles were identified based on differences in the core components of risk, namely, the experience of climate hazards, the degree of exposure and vulnerability, and the associated impacts. The method’s application is illustrated by interpreting the six profiles, with possible adaptation pathways suggested for each. The archetypes show how climate-related risk varies according to households’ livelihood strategies and capital endowments. There are clear site-related distinctions between the risk profiles; however, the age of the household and the gender of the household head also differentiate the profiles. These different profiles suggest the need for adaptation responses that account for these site-related differences, while still recognizing the heterogeneity of risk at the village level.

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Peter N. Peregrine

Abstract

In a recent Weather, Climate, and Society article, two hypotheses about social resilience to disaster were tested. One was that societies allowing greater political participation and access to decision-making were more resilient to catastrophic climate-related disasters; the second was that societies with stronger social norms were more resilient. Support was found for the first hypothesis but little support for the second. The lack of support for the second hypothesis seemed odd, as it had been supported by other researchers, but a clear rationale for the lack of support was not offered. Here the previous study is replicated with a sample of 20 societies that experienced the Late Antique Little Ice Age. As with the original paper, the replication finds support for the first hypothesis and little support for the second. It is suggested that the reason for these differing results is due to the differing forms of climate-related disasters examined in previous studies. Specifically, it is suggested that political participation provides resilience to catastrophic climate-related disasters by fostering bridging forms of social capital, whereas adherence to strong social norms provides resilience to smaller, more episodic disasters by fostering bonding forms of social capital. The paper concludes with policy suggestions that are based on these findings.

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Jonathan Friedrich, Jannik Stahl, Gijsbert Hoogendoorn, and Jennifer M. Fitchett

Abstract

Climate change poses significant threats to the sustainability of tourism economies globally. This is particularly true for beach tourism, which is highly dependent on the mean climate, daily weather, and natural setting of a destination to attract and satisfy tourists. This case study of the South African coastline provides new insights to the applicability of the vulnerability assessment methodology of hazard–activity pairs to the global south and specifically to sub-Saharan Africa. Through this method, tourists’ climate perceptions were analyzed and related to potential future impacts of climate change, creating hazard–activity pairs. Tourists’ perceptions of climate were captured by means of a questionnaire. Downscaled CMIP5 climate projections (RCP4.5 and RCP8.5) for six weather stations close to major beach tourism destinations were used to estimate changes in precipitation and temperature. This study reveals that future projections of a mean reduction in precipitation and increasing temperature may have positive rather than negative direct effects on South African beach tourism destinations because what tourists perceive as “comfortable” weather conditions are increasing in prevalence. Nevertheless, indirect and induced effects of an already changing climate, defining further hazard–activity pairs, must be considered in vulnerability assessments. This work endorses the applicability of the hazard–activity pair methodology to South Africa and the global south at large.

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Danielle Newport, David B. Lobell, Balwinder-Singh, Amit K. Srivastava, Preeti Rao, Maanya Umashaanker, Ram K. Malik, Andrew McDonald, and Meha Jain

ABSTRACT

Climate change is predicted to negatively impact wheat yields across northern India, primarily as a result of increased heat stress during grain filling at the end of the growing season. One way that farmers may adapt is by sowing their wheat earlier to avoid this terminal heat stress. However, many farmers in the eastern Indo-Gangetic Plains (IGP) sow their wheat later than is optimal, likely leading to yield reductions. There is limited documentation of why farmers sow their wheat late and the potential constraints to early sowing. Our study uses data from 256 farmers in Arrah, Bihar, a region in the eastern IGP with late wheat sowing, to identify the socioeconomic, biophysical, perceptional, and management factors influencing wheat-sowing-date decisions. Despite widespread awareness of climate change, we found that farmers did not adopt strategies to adapt to warming temperatures and that wheat-sowing dates were not influenced by perceptions of climate change. Instead, we found that the most important factors influencing wheat-sowing-date decisions were irrigation type and cropping decisions during the monsoon season prior to the winter wheat growing season. Specifically, we found that using canal irrigation instead of groundwater irrigation, planting rice in the monsoon season, transplanting rice, and transplanting rice later during the monsoon season were all associated with delayed wheat sowing. These results suggest that there are system constraints to sowing wheat on time, and these factors must be addressed if farmers are to adapt wheat-sowing-date decisions in the face of warming temperatures.

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Alicia Azpeleta Tarancón, Yeon-Su Kim, Thora Padilla, Peter Z. Fulé, and Andrew J. Sánchez Meador

Abstract

The Mescalero Apache Tribal Lands (MATL) provide a diverse range of ecosystem services, many of which are of fundamental importance for the Mescalero Apache Tribe’s well-being. Managing forests on MATL, especially under climate change, involves prioritizing certain ecosystem services. We used an iterative survey of experts’ opinions to identify those ecosystem services that 1) have high utility—services that the Tribe uses, or could use, and are obtained directly or indirectly from the MATL; 2) are irreplaceable—services that cannot be provided by any other natural resource; and 3) are under a high level of threat—services at risk of declining or being lost directly or indirectly by climate change and thus are critical for management. Both scientists and practitioners identified water and cultural services as management priorities. Management recommendations to mitigate and adapt to climate change effects include reintroduction of fire in the landscape, assisted migration, creation of age/size mosaics across the landscape, and incorporation of green energy. Incorporating human perspectives into natural resource management is a critical component to maintain and adapt social–ecological systems to climate change, especially for Indigenous communities with inherent rights of sovereignty who are deeply connected to natural resources. This study demonstrates how knowledge systems are complementary: diverse perspectives related to values and threats of ecosystems can be incorporated to coconstruct ecosystem management decisions.

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Chukwuma Otum Ume, Ogochukwu Onah, Kehinde Paul Adeosun, Onyekwe Chris Nnamdi, Nice Nneoma Ihedioha, Chukwuemeka Onyia, and Ezinne Orie Idika

Abstract

This study set out to empirically determine the current state of individual and household adaptation to climate change in the United Kingdom and how policy makers can improve on it. The study utilized both qualitative and quantitative approaches (mixed method). For the quantitative aspect of the study, a quota-sampling technique was employed in the selection of 650 respondents for the study using a well-structured questionnaire. The quota representation was based on age and gender. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and binary logit regression. In addition, qualitative content/topic analysis of an in-depth interview of the respondents was employed in further analyzing why and how policy makers can improve climate change adaptation. Findings from the study indicate the dire need for continued government support in household and individual adaptation in Leeds, and this support should also be encouraged in other cities where government intervention is low. Interventions in the form of subsidies, direct regulations, and public awareness are needed. The implementation of these measures is expected to generate a wide range of additional benefits to most vulnerable groups who should be central to the rapidly expanding climate change research and policy agenda in the United Kingdom.

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Brian Mills, Jean Andrey, Sean Doherty, Brent Doberstein, and Jennifer Yessis

Abstract

Emergency department visitation data were analyzed using a matched-pair, retrospective cohort method to estimate the effects of winter storms on fall-related injury risks for a midsized urban community in Ontario, Canada. Using a unique definition and classification of winter storm events and dry-weather control periods, relative risks of injury were estimated for total falls and two subcategories (same-level falls involving ice and snow; all other falls) across two storm event types (snowfall only; mixed precipitation). Winter storms were associated with 38% and 102% increases in the mean incidence of same-level falls involving ice and snow during snow events and freezing-rain events, respectively. The incidence of other types of falls was slightly but significantly less during snow events relative to dry-weather control periods. Findings suggest that walking is not safer than driving during winter storms, as same-level falls involving ice and snow accounted for 64% more of the injury burden than motor vehicle collisions. Significant reductions in mean relative risk estimates for fall-related injuries were apparent over the 2009–17 study period indicating possible long-term shifts in exposure, sensitivity, and/or risk-mitigating decisions, actions, and behavior. Consistent and significant effects of government-issued weather warning communications on risk outcomes were not found. Practitioners engaged in developing injury prevention strategies and related public risk messaging, in particular winter weather warnings and advisories, should place additional emphasis on falls and multimodal injury risks in communications related to winter storm hazards.

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Ashley R. Coles and Katherine K. Hirschboeck

Abstract

Floods, particularly urban flash floods, frequently disrupt traffic, constraining mobility and exposing motorists to danger. Flood risk managers educate the public on the dangers of driving through flooded roadways, yet losses to life and property continue to occur. This study integrates cultural psychology and risk perception theory to explore how cultural and situational factors influence motorists’ behavior during flash floods. Flood risk managers in Tucson, Arizona, collaborated in the development of a questionnaire mailed to local residents in 2007. Self-reported levels of trust, self-efficacy, social incorporation, and situational factors were analyzed with respect to whether respondents stated that they have or have not driven through a flooded roadway. Respondents demonstrate complex reasoning when confronted with flooded roadways, rather than simple or consistent risk-taking or risk-avoidance behaviors. Participants indicate high levels of trust in official warning messages and share information about floods within their social networks, highlighting the success of education campaigns. However, flood conditions are not always clear, so motorists seek additional sources of information and weigh the dangers against other situational factors on a case-by-case basis. Factors that influence respondents’ decisions include the prior successful crossing of other vehicles, presence of signs and barricades, presence of passengers, risk of personal injury or damage to the vehicle, and the availability of flood-related information. The results also show that individuals who know how to avoid floods, including by asking others for advice, are less likely to enter flooded roadways, and thus communicating further instructions will empower more motorists to avoid danger.

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Piotr Matczak, Dariusz Graczyk, Adam Choryński, Iwona Pińskwar, and Viktoria Takacs

Abstract

Proverbs are a part of traditional knowledge that has been increasingly acknowledged to be a valuable source of information for environmental policies. Proverbs on weather convey the cumulated experience of generations that provide guidelines for agricultural practices, everyday decisions, and other situations. Besides the value the proverbs have in their cultural setting, they also serve as an indicator of objective meteorological patterns. This study presents a comprehensive evaluation of the Polish temperature-related proverbs. From the collected corpus of more than 2000 Polish proverbs, 28 were related to temperature and provided concrete predictions and so were selected for further analysis. The proverbs were tested on the basis of temperature (minimum, maximum, and mean) data from 20 weather stations, located in Poland and the neighboring countries, for the period of 1951–2012. Harbingers and forecasts were identified and coded as 0 or 1. Proverb accuracies were then compared using Heidke skill scores and proportions of fulfilled proverbs. The proverbs’ spatial and temporal contingencies were tested via generalized linear mixed models. Some proverbs provided a high proportion (up to 79%) of fulfilled proverbs. Furthermore, the accuracy of the proverbs was reversely proportional to chronological date (decreased with time), with values increasing toward the east and north directions of station locations. The observed changes in proverb accuracies may be attributed to the shift of Polish borders following the Second World War and the respective migration of the population.

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Jonathan M. Garner, William C. Iwasko, Tyler D. Jewel, Brad R. Charboneau, Alex A. Dodd, and Kathleen M. Zontos

Abstract

Weather fatalities for all age groups were examined for the period 1996–2018 using NOAA Storm Data. Vulnerabilities due to limited mobility that inhibited evacuation from a hazardous environment were observed for the very young and the very old. Those situations included heat- and cold-related hazards, tropical cyclones, and wildfires. Vulnerabilities associated with unrestricted mobility occurred in teenage through middle-aged groups, who were more exposed to fatal outcomes in the surfzone, mountain, winter-driving, and lightning environments. There is evidence that vulnerable members of society who received help from family, neighbors, and their community were more likely to avoid potentially fatal weather events, whereas those who were socially isolated were more likely to succumb. National Weather Service programs, such as Weather-Ready Nation, and other initiatives like the Community Emergency Response Team could potentially aid in reducing weather fatalities by encouraging communities to take a more proactive approach in ensuring physically vulnerable populations like the elderly receive assistance during hazardous weather events. Furthermore, weather-messaging strategies should be flexible enough to target populations who are vulnerable to specific hazards.

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