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Christian Kuhlicke, Torsten Masson, Sarah Kienzler, Tobias Sieg, Annegret H. Thieken, and Heidi Kreibich

Abstract

Previous studies have explored the consequences of flood events for exposed households and companies by focusing on single flood events. Less is known about the consequences of experiencing repeated flood events for the resilience of households and companies. In this paper, we therefore explore how multiple floods experience affects the resilience of exposed households and companies. Resilience was made operational through individual appraisals of households and companies’ ability to withstand and recover from material as well as health and psychological impacts of the 2013 flood in Germany. The paper is based on three different datasets including more than 2000 households and 300 companies that were affected by the 2013 flood. The surveys revealed that the resilience of households seems to increase, but only with regard to their subjectively appraised ability to withstand impacts on mobile goods and equipment (e.g., cars, TV, and radios). In regard to the ability of households to withstand overall financial consequences of repetitive floods, evidence for nonlinear (quadratic) trends can be found. With regard to psychological and health-related consequences, the findings are mixed but provide tentative evidence for eroding resilience among households. Companies’ resilience increased with respect to material assets but appears to decrease with respect to ability to recover. We conclude by arguing that clear and operational definitions of resilience are required so that evidence-based resilience baselines can be established to assess whether resilience is eroding or improving over time.

Open access
Jason Senkbeil, Jacob Reed, Jennifer Collins, Kimberly Brothers, Michelle Saunders, Walker Skeeter, Emily Cerrito, Saurav Chakraborty, and Amy Polen

Abstract

Hurricanes Isaac (2012), Harvey (2017), and Irma (2017) were storms with different geophysical characteristics and track forecast consistencies. Despite the differences, common themes emerged from the perception of track forecasts from evacuees for each storm. Surveys with a mixture of closed and open-ended responses were conducted during the evacuations of each storm while the storm characteristics and decision-making were fresh in the minds of evacuees. Track perception accuracy for each evacuee was quantified by taking the difference between three metrics: perceived track and official track (PT − OT), perceived track and forecast track (PT − FT), and home location and perceived track (HL − PT). Evacuees from Hurricanes Isaac and Harvey displayed a tendency to perceive hurricane tracks as being closer to their home locations than what was forecast to occur and what actually occurred. The large sample collected for Hurricane Irma provided a chance to statistically verify some of the hypotheses generated from Isaac and Harvey. Results from Hurricane Irma confirmed that evacuees expected a storm to be closer to their home locations after controlling for regional influences. Furthermore, participants with greater previous hurricane experience perceived a track as being closer to their home locations, and participants residing in zip codes corresponding with nonmandatory evacuation zones also perceived tracks as being closer to their home locations. These findings suggest that most evacuees from hurricanes in the United States appear to perceive storms as being closer to their home locations than they are and overestimate wind speeds at their homes, thus overestimating the true danger from landfalling hurricanes in many storms.

Free access
Kristin M. F. Timm, Edward W. Maibach, Maxwell Boykoff, Teresa A. Myers, and Melissa A. Broeckelman-Post

Abstract

The journalistic norm of balance has been described as the practice of giving equal weight to different sides of a story; false balance is balanced reporting when the weight of evidence strongly favors one side over others—for example, the reality of human-caused climate change. False balance is problematic because it skews public perception of expert agreement. Through formative interviews and a survey of American weathercasters about climate change reporting, we found that objectivity and balance—topics that have frequently been studied with environmental journalists—are also relevant to understanding climate change reporting among weathercasters. Questions about the practice of and reasons for presenting an opposing viewpoint when reporting on climate change were included in a 2017 census survey of weathercasters working in the United States (N = 480; response rate = 22%). When reporting on climate change, 35% of weathercasters present an opposing viewpoint “always” or “most of the time.” Their rationale for reporting opposing viewpoints included the journalistic norms of objectivity and balanced reporting (53%), their perceived uncertainty of climate science (21%), to acknowledge differences of opinion (17%), to maintain credibility (14%), and to strengthen the story (7%). These findings show that climate change reporting from weathercasters sometimes includes opposing viewpoints, and possibly a false balance, but further research is necessary. Moreover, prior research has shown that the climate reporting practices among weathercasters are evolving rapidly and so the problem of false-balance reporting may already be self-correcting.

Open access
B. S. Felzer, Carol R. Ember, R. Cheng, and M. Jiang

Abstract

Our broad research goal is to understand how human societies adapt to natural hazards, such as droughts and floods, and how their social and cultural structures are shaped by these events. Here we develop meteorological data of extreme dry, wet, cold, and warm indices relative to 96 largely nonindustrial societies in the worldwide Standard Cross-Cultural Sample to explore how well the meteorological data can be used to hindcast ethnographically reported drought and flood events and the global patterns of extremes. We find that the drought indices that are best at hindcasting ethnographically reported droughts [precipitation minus evaporation (P − E) measures] also tend to overpredict the number of droughts, and therefore we propose a combination of these two indices plus the PDSI as an optimal approach. Some wet precipitation indices (R10S and R20S) are more effective at hindcasting ethnographically reported floods than others. We also calculate the predictability of those extreme indices and use factor analysis to reduce the number of variables so as to discern global patterns. This work highlights the ability to use extreme meteorological indices to fill in gaps in ethnographic records; in the future, this may help us to determine relationships between extreme events and societal response over longer time scales than are otherwise available.

Free access
Aglaé Jézéquel, Vivian Dépoues, Hélène Guillemot, Amélie Rajaud, Mélodie Trolliet, Mathieu Vrac, Jean-Paul Vanderlinden, and Pascal Yiou

Abstract

Extreme event attribution (EEA) proposes scientific diagnostics on whether and how a specific weather event is (or is not) different in the actual world from what it could have been in a world without climate change. This branch of climate science has developed to the point where European institutions are preparing the ground for an operational attribution service. In this context, the goal of this article is to explore a panorama of scientist perspectives on their motivations to undertake EEA studies. To do so, we rely on qualitative semi-structured interviews of climate scientists involved in EEA, on peer-reviewed social and climate literature discussing the usefulness of EEA, and on reports from the EUCLEIA project (European Climate and Weather Events: Interpretation and Attribution), which investigated the possibility of building an EEA service. We propose a classification of EEA’s potential uses and users and discuss each of them. We find that, first, there is a plurality of motivations and that individual scientists disagree on which one is most useful. Second, there is a lack of solid, empirical evidence to back up any of these motivations.

Open access
Michael D. Gerst, Melissa A. Kenney, Allison E. Baer, Amanda Speciale, J. Felix Wolfinger, Jon Gottschalck, Scott Handel, Matthew Rosencrans, and David Dewitt

Abstract

Visually communicating temperature and precipitation climate outlook graphics is challenging because it requires the viewer to be familiar with probabilities as well as to have the visual literacy to interpret geospatial forecast uncertainty. In addition, the visualization scientific literature has open questions on which visual design choices are the most effective at expressing the multidimensionality of uncertain forecasts, leaving designers with a lack of concrete guidance. Using a two-phase experimental setup, this study shows how recently developed visualization diagnostic guidelines can be used to iteratively diagnose, redesign, and test the understandability the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center (CPC) climate outlooks. In the first phase, visualization diagnostic guidelines were used in conjunction with interviews and focus groups to identify understandability challenges of existing visual conventions in temperature and precipitation outlooks. Next, in a randomized control versus experimental treatment setup, several graphic modifications were produced and tested via an online survey of end users and the general public. Results show that, overall, end users exhibit a better understanding of outlooks, but some types of probabilistic color mapping are misunderstood by both end users and the general public, which was predicted by the diagnostic guidelines. Modifications lead to significant gains in end-user and general public understanding of climate outlooks, providing additional evidence for the utility of using control versus treatment testing informed by visualization diagnostics.

Open access
D. H. Cobon, R. Darbyshire, J. Crean, S. Kodur, M. Simpson, and C. Jarvis

Abstract

Seasonal climate forecasts (SCFs) provide opportunities for pastoralists to align production decisions to climatic conditions, as SCFs offer economic value by increasing certainty about future climatic states at decision-making time. Insufficient evidence about the economic value of SCFs was identified as a major factor limiting adoption of SCFs in Australia and abroad. This study examines the value of SCFs to beef production system management in northern Australia by adopting a theoretical probabilistic climate forecast system. Stocking rate decisions in October, before the onset of the wet season, were identified by industry as a key climate sensitive decision. The analysis considered SCF value across economic drivers (steer price in October) and environmental drivers (October pasture availability). A range in forecast value was found ($0–$14 per head) dependent on pasture availability, beef price, and SCF skill. Skillful forecasts of future climate conditions offered little value with medium or high pasture availability, as in these circumstances pastures were rarely overutilized. In contrast, low pasture availability provided conditions for alternative optimal stocking rates and for SCFs to be valuable. Optimal stocking rates under low pasture availability varied the most with climate state (i.e., wet or dry), indicating that producers have more to gain from a skillful SCF at these times. Although the level of pasture availability in October was the major determinant of stocking rate decisions, beef price settings were also found to be important. This analysis provides insights into the potential value of SCFs to extensive beef enterprises and can be used by pastoralists to evaluate the cost benefit of using a SCF in annual management.

Open access
Rachel E. Schattman, Stephanie E. Hurley, Holly L. Greenleaf, Meredith T. Niles, and Martha Caswell

Abstract

Landscape photovisualizations (PVZs) are digitally altered photographs that show existing landscapes altered to include a simulated future scenario. They are commonly used to support dialogue and decision-making in multistakeholder contexts. In agricultural sectors, stakeholders increasingly must contend with pressures to adapt to climatic changes and shifts in weather patterns. This study examines the potential of PVZs to engage agricultural stakeholders about climate change adaptation, specifically around best management practices (BMPs). In 2015, survey data were collected (n = 133) at six agricultural conferences Vermont. Participants were asked about their climate change knowledge, perceptions of adaptation, and their intentions to adopt or recommend one or more of the following BMPs: riparian buffers, drainage tiles with constructed wetlands, retention ponds, and silvopasture. In addition, respondents were asked about how well PVZs did or did not clarify their understanding of each BMP and its associated limiting factors. Results from five multivariate ordered logit models show an increase in interest among some agricultural stakeholders in adopting a BMP (among farmers) or recommending a BMP (among agricultural advisors) after seeing a PVZ depicting that practice. Interest in adoption or recommendation of BMPs was also more likely among respondents who believe that it is important for farms to adapt to climate change. Although PVZs are not common in agricultural outreach programs, these results suggest that PVZs are relevant to agricultural education and land-use decision-making, specifically in the domain of climate change adaptation.

Free access
Lindsay C. Maudlin, Karen S. McNeal, Heather Dinon-Aldridge, Corey Davis, Ryan Boyles, and Rachel M. Atkins

ABSTRACT

Decision support systems—collections of related information located in a central place to be used for decision-making—can be used as platforms from which climate information can be shared with decision-makers. Unfortunately, these tools are not often evaluated, meaning developers do not know how useful or usable their products are. In this study, a web-based climate decision support system (DSS) for foresters in the southeastern United States was evaluated by using eye-tracking technology. The initial study design was exploratory and focused on assessing usability concerns within the website. Results showed differences between male and female forestry experts in their eye-tracking behavior and in their success with completing tasks and answering questions related to the climate information presented in the DSS. A follow-up study, using undergraduate students from a large university in the southeastern United States, aimed to determine whether similar gender differences existed and could be detected and, if so, whether the cause(s) could be determined. The second evaluation, similar to the first, showed that males and females focused their attention on different aspects of the website; males focused more on the maps depicting climate information while females focused more on other aspects of the website (e.g., text, search bars, and color bars). DSS developers should consider the possibility of gender differences when designing a web-based DSS and include website features that draw user attention to important DSS elements to effectively support various populations of users.

Free access
Calum G. Turvey, Apurba Shee, and Ana Marr

Abstract

Climate risk financing programs in agriculture have caught the attention of researchers and policy makers over the last decade. Weather index insurance has emerged as a promising market-based risk financing mechanism. However, to develop a suitable weather index insurance mechanism it is essential to incorporate the distribution of underlying weather and climate risks to a specific event model that can minimize intraseasonal basis risk. In this paper we investigate the erratic nature of rainfall patterns in Kenya using Climate Hazards Group Infrared Precipitation with Station Data (CHIRPS) rainfall data from 1983 to 2017. We find that the patterns of rainfall are fractional, both erratic and persistent, which is consistent with the Noah and Joseph effects that are well known in mathematics. The erratic nature of rainfall emerges from the breakdown of the convergence to a normal distribution. Instead we find that the distribution about the average is approximately lognormal, with an almost 50% higher chance of deficit rainfall below the mean than adequate rainfall above the mean. We find that the rainfall patterns obey the Hurst law and that the measured Hurst coefficients for seasonal rainfall pattern across all years range from a low of 0.137 to a high above 0.685. To incorporate the erratic and persistent nature of seasonal rainfall, we develop a new approach to weather index insurance based upon the accumulated rainfall in any 21-day period falling below 60% of the long-term average for that same 21-day period. We argue that this approach is more satisfactory to matching drought conditions within and between various phenological stages of growth.

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