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Erika O. Pham, Christopher T. Emrich, Zhenlong Li, Jamie Mitchem, and Susan L. Cutter

Abstract

This study investigates evacuation behaviors associated with Hurricane Matthew in October of 2016. It assesses factors influencing evacuation decisions and evacuation departure times for Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina from an online survey of respondents. Approximately 62% of the Florida sample, 77% of the Georgia sample, and 67% of the South Carolina sample evacuated. Logistic regression analysis of the departures in the overall time period identified variability in evacuation timing, primarily dependent on prior experience, receipt of an evacuation order, and talking with others about the evacuation order. However, using four logistic regressions to analyze differences in departure times by day shows that the only significant variable across the three main days of evacuation was our proxy variable for evacuation-order times. Depending on the day, other variables of interest include number of household vehicles, previous hurricane experience, and receipt of an evacuation order. Descriptive results show that many variables are considered in the decision to evacuate, but results from subsequent analyses, and respondents’ comments about their experiences, highlight that evacuation orders are the primary triggering variable for when residents left.

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Meena Sehgal and Sujit Ghosh

Abstract

Malaria and dengue fever are among the most important vectorborne diseases in the tropics and subtropics. Average weekly meteorological parameters—specifically, minimum temperature, maximum temperature, humidity, and rainfall—were collected using data from 100 automated weather stations from the Indian Space Research Organization. We obtained district-level weekly reported malaria cases from the Integrated Disease Surveillance Program (IDSP), Department of Health and Family Welfare, Andhra Pradesh, India, for three years, 2014–16. We used a generalized linear model with Poisson distribution and default logarithm-link to estimate model parameters, and we used a quasi-Poisson method with a generalized additive model that uses nonparametric regression with smoothing splines. It appears that higher minimum temperatures (e.g., >24°C) tend to lead to higher malaria counts but lower values do not seem to have an impact on the malaria counts. On the other hand, higher values of maximum temperature (e.g., >32°C) seem to negatively affect the malaria counts. The relationships with rainfall and humidity appear to be not as strong once we account for smooth (weekly) trends and temperatures; both smooth curves seem to hover around zero across all of their values. We note that a rainfall amount between 40 and 50 mm seems to have a positive impact on malaria counts. Our analyses show that the incremental increase in meteorological parameters does not lead to an increase in reported malaria cases in the same manner for all of the districts within the same state. This suggests that other factors such as vegetation, elevation, and water index in the environment also influence disease occurrence.

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Brooke Fisher Liu, Anita Atwell Seate, Irina Iles, and Emina Herovic

Abstract

Since the 1970s, the National Weather Service has trained citizens to collect, confirm, verify, or supplement radar and other data to contribute to a weather-ready nation. This study examines citizens who volunteer as weather spotters through a case study of an award-winning network. We uncover what motivates citizens to become involved in government science projects. Through the lens of relationship management theory and the related network approach, the study provides some of the first evidence on the benefits and drawbacks of citizens serving as amateur scientists and risk communicators and how these citizen scientists sustain their relationships with government scientists.

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Barbara Millet, Andrew P. Carter, Kenneth Broad, Alberto Cairo, Scotney D. Evans, and Sharanya J. Majumdar

Abstract

Increasingly, the risk assessment community has recognized the social and cultural aspects of vulnerability to hurricanes and other hazards that impact planning and public communication. How individuals and communities understand and react to natural hazard risk communications can be driven by a number of different cognitive, cultural, economic, and political factors. The social sciences have seen an increased focus over the last decade on studying hurricane understanding and responses from a social, cognitive, or decision science perspective, which, broadly defined, includes a number of disparate fields. This paper is a cross-disciplinary and critical review of those efforts as they are relevant to hurricane risk communication development. We focus on two areas that, on the basis of a comprehensive literature review and discussions with experts in the field, have received comparatively little attention from the hazards community: 1) research concerning visual communications and the way in which individuals process, understand, and make decisions regarding them and 2) the way in which vulnerable communities understand and interact with hurricane warning communications. We go on to suggest areas that merit increased research and draw lessons or guidance from the broader hazards/social science research realm that has implications for hurricane planning and risk communication, particularly the development and dissemination of hurricane forecast products.

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Michael Robert Nkuba, Raban Chanda, Gagoitseope Mmopelwa, Margaret Najjingo Mangheni, David Lesolle, and Edward Kato

Abstract

This study investigated the abiotic and biotic environmental indicators used among pastoralists and arable farmers to predict the onset and cessation of rain as well as to make short-term and seasonal forecasts in the Rwenzori region of Western Uganda. We used a mixed-methods approach that included surveys of 907 households, focus group discussions, and key informant interviews. The results indicate that resident birds such as white-browed coucals and turacos and migrant birds such as eagles and swallows were important indicators of the onset of rains. Butterflies were an important indicator for the cessation of rains, and red ants were an indicator for the onset of rains. Among the abiotic indicators, winds, clouds, earthquakes, and cloud formation on Mount Rwenzori were important indicators. Behavior of cattle at the onset of rains was important among the pastoralists, and flowering of coffee plants was important among the arable farmers. The behavior of the biotic indicators was driven by the availability of food, water, or other necessities. An attempt to explain the phenology underlying the behavior of biotic indicators and the meteorological science underlying some of the abiotic indicators is made. Although biotic environmental indicators are rudimentary and their accuracy is influenced by external factors such as climate change, they provide climate information within the locality of the farmers. Our results suggest that the indicators used in indigenous forecasting could be incorporated in national meteorological systems in a bid to improve the accuracy of rainfall forecasts and their use among farmers and pastoralists in rural Africa.

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Matthew J. Bolton, William G. Blumberg, Lara K. Ault, H. Michael Mogil, and Stacie H. Hanes

Abstract

Weather is important to all people, including vulnerable populations (those whose circumstances include cognitive processing, hearing, or vision differences; physical disability; homelessness; and other scenarios and factors). Autism spectrum conditions affect information processing and areas of neurological functioning that potentially inhibit the reception of hazardous weather information and are of particular concern for weather messengers. People on the autism spectrum tend to score highly in tests of systemizing, a psychological process that heavily entails attention to detail and revolves around the creation of logical rules to explain things that occur in the world. This article reports the results of three preliminary studies examining weather salience—psychological attention to weather—and its potential relationships with systemizing in autistic people. Initial findings suggest that enhanced weather salience exists among autistic individuals relative to those without the condition and that this may be related to systemizing. These findings reveal some possible strategies for communicating weather to autistic populations and motivate future work on a conceptual model that blends systemizing and chaos theory to better understand weather salience.

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Morris W. Foster and Emily E. Steinhilber

Abstract

The nineteenth-century experiences of yellow fever epidemics in New Orleans and Norfolk present historical parallels for how those cities, and others, are experiencing existential threats from climate change and sea level rise in the twenty-first century. In particular, the nineteenth-century “sanitary reform” movement can be interpreted as a model for challenges facing twenty-first-century “climate resilience” initiatives, including denialism and political obfuscation of scientific debates as well as tensions between short-term profit and the cost of long-term infrastructure investments and between individualism and communitarianism. The history of sanitary reform suggests that, at least in the United States, climate resilience initiatives will advance largely on a regional basis through extended local debates around these and other challenges until resilient infrastructure and practices are taken for granted, much as sanitary waterworks and sewers are today.

Open access
George C. Nche

Abstract

This study explored the role of church leaders in addressing climate change with a focus on Catholic, Anglican, and Pentecostal churches in Nigeria. The study adopted a semistructured face-to-face interview with 30 church leaders drawn from the selected denominations (i.e., 10 church leaders from each denomination). These participants were spread across five states in five geopolitical zones in Nigeria. A descriptive narrative approach was employed in the thematic organization and analysis of data. Findings showed that while all the participants across the three denominations—Catholic, Anglican, and Pentecostal churches—agreed to have heard of climate change, their perceptions of the causes of the phenomenon were narrow and varied along religious denominational lines. More Catholic participants expressed belief in anthropogenic climate change than did Anglicans and Pentecostals. Awareness creation, charity for disaster victims, and prayer were identified by the participants as the roles churches can play in addressing climate change. Although climate change action was generally poor among participants, Catholics engaged more in organizational action than did Anglicans and Pentecostals. In contrast, climate change actions were more on a personal level than on the organizational/church level within Pentecostal churches. The implications of the findings for the Church/church leaders, policy, and future research are discussed.

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Michael J. Lynch, Paul B. Stretesky, and Michael A. Long

Abstract

It has been argued that the temperature increase caused by anthropogenic climate change will produce a significant increase in violent crime. Support for that prediction is often based on statistical analyses of seasonal temperature and crime data cycles across days, months, and quarters and sometimes on large geographic areas. Within-year temperature changes are very large, however, relative to the 30-yr temperature increases employed to measure climate change. In addition, because temperature trends associated with climate change vary geographically, analyses should employ small geographic units for which temperature changes are measured over yearly intervals and for long periods of time. To address these conditions, this study examined the long-term temperature–crime association for homicides in New York and London for 1895–2015. Consistent with previous studies examining seasonal weather and crime patterns, we found a positive correlation between annual homicide rates and temperature, but only at the bivariate level. This relationship became statistically insignificant in both New York and London when gross domestic product is controlled. Moreover, the bivariate relationship between temperature and homicide is statistically insignificant when correcting for nonstationarity. Thus, it does not appear that climate change has led to higher rates of homicide in New York and London over the long term. These nonfindings are important because they suggest that studies of climate change and violence might do well to consider alternative mechanisms that mediate the relationship between climate change and violence.

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Esther Chiew, Rachel A. Davidson, Joseph E. Trainor, Linda K. Nozick, and Jamie L. Kruse

Abstract

An increasing number of national, state, and local programs have offered grants or other monetary incentives to encourage homeowners to retrofit their homes to reduce damage from natural hazard events. Despite this fact, little is known about how these offerings influence a homeowner’s decision to carry out such structural retrofits. This paper studies the impact that different grant program designs in particular have on the decision to undertake different types of retrofits to mitigate against hurricane damage. Using data from a survey of homeowners in the eastern half of North Carolina, we implement a mixed logit model that allows for the combination of both revealed-preference and stated-preference data available from the survey. Our findings show that offering a grant results in households being, on average, 3 times as likely to retrofit as when a grant is not offered. In addition, both the percentage of retrofit cost and the maximum dollar amount covered by the grant have a substantial impact on the probability that households choose to retrofit. Living closer to the coastline also has a significant impact on the probability that households will choose to retrofit. Counter to some previous research, we find that households who have experienced two or more hurricanes are less likely to choose to retrofit their homes. From our research, we find that the percentage of retrofit cost covered by the grant and the total cost are both important factors when deciding on the best grant program configuration.

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