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Rachel A. Braun and Matthew P. Fraser

Abstract

One commonly proposed strategy for reducing urban air pollution is transitioning from single-occupancy vehicle (SOV) travel to alternative transportation (AT) modes, such as walking, biking, and using public transportation. While many studies have addressed the benefits of switching from SOV to AT, fewer studies have examined the potential for negative outcomes due to increased exposure to heat when using AT modes. This work uses Maricopa County, Arizona, USA, home to the Metropolitan Phoenix area, as a test case to examine the potential impacts of heat on commuters who utilize AT. First, regions of the county with the most candidates for switching from SOV to AT were identified and used to develop an AT candidate index. This index was based on both the current rates of AT use and the number of SOV commuters with the shortest commuting times in the dataset (< 10 min). Next, typical weather conditions during warnings for high ozone (O3) pollution are examined. From 2017-2020, over a quarter of all days with an O3 warning also were subject to an excessive heat warning. Finally, land surface temperature (LST) data were used to determine the potential for increased heat exposure during AT commuting at both the ZIP Code and AT infrastructure (public transit stops and bikeways) scales. While this work focuses on Maricopa County, the issues presented here are increasingly relevant for cities across the world subjected to poor air quality, hotter temperatures, and heat waves.

Open access
Tatiana Gumucio, Helen Greatrex, and Erin Lentz

Abstract

Weather risk management products can be critical for supporting effective humanitarian actions to mitigate and prevent disasters; however, to be truly actionable, they must be based in an understanding of how weather contributes to disaster risk, informed by humanitarians’ decision-making context. Our paper seeks to identify considerations for weather risk management products to support disaster risk management, through analysis of humanitarian perceptions of the factors and processes that contribute to weather-influenced disasters, taking Somalia as a case study. We carry out semi-structured interviews with humanitarian actors familiar with using weather information in their work, and we apply social cascades and disaster risk creation as conceptual tools in our analysis.

Our study finds that humanitarian actors perceive historically-influenced social networks, livelihood dependence on seasonality, terrorist territorial control, public capacities to manage disasters, and household-level factors related to asset control and coping mechanisms contribute to weather-influenced disasters in Somalia. These factors and processes are part of humanitarians’ dynamic decision-making context. Key insights from our study concern the importance of understanding local geographies of marginalization to design weather risk management products with the context specificity necessary for effective humanitarian actions. Also, assessing weather effects on livelihood calendars can help identify those seasonal weather conditions most responsible for detrimental livelihood impacts. Consideration of livelihood calendars can also promote accurate assessment of the effects of consecutive weather-related hazards on coping capacities and resiliency.

Open access
Dolly Y. Na-Yemeh, Christopher A. Fiebrich, James E. Hocker, and Mark A. Shafer

Abstract

Oklahoma’s First-response Information Resource System using Telecommunications (OK-First) has been used for over 25 years to provide education, training, connections, and follow-up support for public safety officials with emergency management responsibilities in Oklahoma. Public safety officials use OK-First training and Oklahoma Mesonet tools to plan and make decisions to save lives and property. However, like most public systems, little is known about user interactions with tools, decisions made, and estimated savings using a weather decision support system. This study used a mixed approach to collect and analyze data from three key sources to assess the perceptions, beneficiaries, and applications of weather support systems for public safety officials. Results showed that a diverse set of tools were needed and used by public safety officials to make decisions in hazardous weather conditions. OK-First tools resulted in estimated self-reported cost savings of over $1.2 million for 12 months. This study provides a crucial step in determining user interactions with tools, training, and services to better understand weather decision support systems used during hazardous weather.

Open access
Dag O. Hessen and Vigdis Vandvik

Abstract

It is increasingly evident that climate sustainability depends not only on societal actions and responses, but also on ecosystem functioning and responses. The capacity of global ecosystems to provide services such as sequestering carbon and regulating hydrology is being strongly reduced both by climate change itself and by unprecedented rates of ecosystem degradation. These services rely on functional aspects of ecosystems that are causally linked—the same ecosystem components that efficiently sequester and store carbon also regulate hydrology by sequestering and storing water. This means that climate change adaptation and mitigation must involve not only preparing for a future with temperature and precipitation anomalies, but also actively minimizing climate hazards and risks by conserving and managing ecosystems and their fundamental supporting and regulating ecosystem services. We summarize general climate–nature feedback processes relating to carbon and water cycling on a broad global scale before focusing on Norway to exemplify the crucial role of ecosystem regulatory services for both carbon sequestration and hydrological processes and the common neglect of this ecosystem–climate link in policy and landscape management. We argue that a key instrument for both climate change mitigation and adaptation policy is to take advantage of the climate buffering and regulative abilities of a well-functioning natural ecosystem. This will enable shared benefits to nature, climate, and human well-being. To meet the global climate and nature crises, we must capitalize on the importance of nature for buffering climate change effects, combat short-term perspectives and the discounting of future costs, and maintain or even strengthen whole-ecosystem functioning at the landscape level.

Significance Statement

Natural ecosystems such as forests, wetlands, and heaths are key for the cycling and storage of water and carbon. Preserving these systems is essential for climate mitigation and adaptation and will also secure biodiversity and associated ecosystem services. Systematic failure to recognize the links between nature and human well-being underlies the current trend of accelerating loss of nature and thereby nature’s ability to buffer climate changes and their impacts. Society needs a new perspective on spatial planning that values nature as a sink and store of carbon and a regulator of hydrological processes, as well as for its biodiversity. We need policies that fully encompass the role of nature in preventing climate-induced disasters, along with many other benefits for human well-being.

Open access
Linda Menk, Stefano Terzi, Marc Zebisch, Erich Rome, Daniel Lückerath, Katharina Milde, and Stefan Kienberger

Abstract

Shifting from effect-oriented toward cause-oriented and systemic approaches in sustainable climate change adaptation requires a solid understanding of the climate-related and societal causes behind climate risks. Thus, capturing, systemizing, and prioritizing factors contributing to climate risks are essential for developing cause-oriented climate risk and vulnerability assessments (CRVA). Impact chains (IC) are conceptual models used to capture hazard, vulnerability, and exposure factors that lead to a specific risk. IC modeling includes a participatory stakeholder phase and an operational quantification phase. Although ICs are widely implemented to systematically capture risk processes, they still show methodological gaps concerning, for example, the integration of dynamic feedback or balanced stakeholder involvement. Such gaps usually only become apparent in practical applications, and there is currently no systematic perspective on common challenges and methodological needs. Therefore, we reviewed 47 articles applying IC and similar CRVA methods that consider the cause–effect dynamics governing risk. We provide an overview of common challenges and opportunities as a roadmap for future improvements. We conclude that IC should move from a linear-like to an impact web–like representation of risk to integrate cause–effect dynamics. Qualitative approaches are based on significant stakeholder involvement to capture expert-, place-, and context-specific knowledge. The integration of IC into quantifiable, executable models is still highly underexplored because of a limited understanding of systems, data, evaluation options, and other uncertainties. Ultimately, using IC to capture the underlying complex processes behind risk supports effective, long-term, and sustainable climate change adaptation.

Open access
Frank Baffour-Ata, Philip Antwi-Agyei, Elias Nkiaka, Andrew J. Dougill, Alexander K. Anning, and Stephen Oppong Kwakye

Abstract

Climate information services can build the resilience of African farmers to address the increasing threats associated with climate change. This study used household surveys with 200 farmers and focus group discussions to identify the types of climate information services available to farming households in two selected districts (Tolon and Nanton) in the Northern Region of Ghana. The study also identified the dissemination channels and the barriers faced by farmers in their access and use of climate information services for building climate resilience in Ghanaian farming systems. Multinomial logistic regression analysis was used to evaluate the determinants of farmers’ access to climate information services. Results show that 70% of the surveyed farmers had access to varied forms of climate information services. The most prevalent meteorological variables accessible to them were rainfall, temperature, and windstorms in the form of daily and weekly weather forecasts, with only very limited availability and use of seasonal climate forecasts. Radio, television, and advice from extension agents were reported as the major dissemination channels by study respondents. A majority of the farmers reported lack of communication devices, mistrust in weather and climate forecasts, and lack of visual representations in the forecasts as major barriers to access and use of climate information services. The results highlight the importance of timely and reliable access to climate information services in enhancing farmers’ decision-making capacities and the need for training and recruitment of more extension agents to work with farmers on linking climate information services to targeted actions on crop and land management.

Open access
Carlo Aall, Tarje Wanvik, and Brigt Dale

Abstract

To reach the 1.5°–2° goal of the Paris Agreement, the speed of transition to a renewable energy society must increase significantly. Applying Perrow’s theory of societal risk, we argue that switching from a fossil-based energy system to a future 100% renewable energy system may increase climate risks. Reviewing policy and research literature, and interviewing key energy policy actors in Norway, we find that there is limited knowledge on this topic and that the knowledge that does exist suffers from several shortcomings. Climate risks are generally discussed by applying future climate to the current energy system and thus failing to consider climate vulnerabilities caused by the ongoing energy transition. Also, discussions are frequently limited to subsystem reflections as opposed to system reflections and mostly present supply-side perspectives as opposed to demand-side perspectives. Most of the policy actors conclude that a future 100% renewable energy system will mainly benefit from climate change and reduce rather than increase climate risks. A research agenda is proposed to gain a better understanding of how the ongoing energy transitions can affect climate risks, especially to address the potential that reducing the level of energy consumption, diversifying energy sources, and prioritizing short-traveled energy can have to reduce climate risk in high-consuming countries.

Significance Statement

Switching from a fossil-based to a mostly “climate driven” renewable energy system may increase climate risks, and rapid transitions may increase risks even more. Still, knowledge of such risks is limited and suffers from several shortcomings. Studies are generally applying future climate to current energy system conditions and thus failing to consider vulnerabilities caused by the ongoing transformation of the energy system. Studies so far are also often limited to analyzing only parts of the system and not the energy system as a whole, and they are aiming at the production side rather than the consumption side. Thus, they tend to conclude that the energy system will mainly benefit from climate change. To reduce climate risks, we claim the need to focus on energy consumption and short-traveled energy.

Open access
Joseph Ripberger, Andrew Bell, Andrew Fox, Aarika Forney, William Livingston, Cassidy Gaddie, Carol Silva, and Hank Jenkins-Smith

Abstract

Probabilistic forecast information is rapidly spreading in the weather enterprise. Many scientists agree that this is a positive development, but incorporating probability information into risk communication can be challenging because communicators have little guidance about the most effective way to present it. This project endeavors to create such guidance by initiating a “living systematic review” of research studies that empirically examine the impact of risk messages that use probability information on protective action decision-making, intentions, and behaviors. In this article, we explain how we began the review, map the current state of the literature, synthesize core findings, provide actionable recommendations to assist forecasters in risk communication, and introduce an online platform that scholars and forecasters can use to interact with the data from the review. We conclude with two key points from the review that necessitate emphasis: the research literature strongly suggests that 1) average people can make sense of and use probability information if consideration is given to information presentation and 2) assuming appropriate presentation, probability information generally improves decision quality.

Significance Statement

Probability information is increasingly common in weather forecasts, but forecasters have relatively little guidance on the most effective way to communicate this information to members of the public. This project synthesizes the research literature to provide actionable recommendations to assist forecasters who are working to include probability information in risk communication messages.

Open access
Berill Blair, Malte Müller, Cyril Palerme, Rayne Blair, David Crookall, Maaike Knol-Kauffman, and Machiel Lamers

Abstract

Forecasts of sea ice evolution in the Arctic region for several months ahead can be of considerable socioeconomic value for a diverse range of marine sectors and for local community supply logistics. However, subseasonal-to-seasonal (S2S) forecasts represent a significant technical challenge, and translating user needs into scientifically manageable procedures and robust user confidence requires collaboration among a range of stakeholders. We developed and tested a novel, transdisciplinary coproduction approach that combined socioeconomic scenarios and participatory, research-driven simulation gaming to test a new S2S sea ice forecast system with experienced mariners in the cruise tourism sector. Our custom-developed computerized simulation game known as “ICEWISE” integrated sea ice parameters, forecast technology, and human factors as a participatory environment for stakeholder engagement. We explored the value of applications-relevant S2S sea ice prediction and linked uncertainty information. Results suggest that the usefulness of S2S services is currently most evident in schedule-dependent sectors but is expected to increase as a result of anticipated changes in the physical environment and continued growth in Arctic operations. Reliable communication of uncertainty information in sea ice forecasts must be demonstrated and trialed before users gain confidence in emerging services and technologies. Mariners’ own intuition, experience, and familiarity with forecast service provider reputation impact the extent to which sea ice information may reduce uncertainties and risks for Arctic mariners. Our insights into the performance of the combined foresight/simulation coproduction model in brokering knowledge across a range of domains demonstrates promise. We conclude with an overview of the potential contributions from S2S sea ice predictions and from experiential coproduction models to the development of decision-driven and science-informed climate services.

Open access
Free access