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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.

Free access
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.

Free access
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.

Free access
Nuria Vargas and Víctor Magaña

Abstract

During the second half of the twentieth century, rapid demographic growth and urban expansion led to the development of the Mexico City metropolitan area (MCMA) urban heat island (UHI). The thermal gradient between rural and urban regions is used to define the UHI in the transition zone along the 26°C isotherm of mean maximum temperature. As the MCMA expands, more natural vegetation is replaced with urbanization, and the spatial extent of the 26°C isotherm grows. The loss of natural vegetation, in a densely populated region of Mexico, leads to the formation of a canopy-layer UHI. The intensification of the MCMA UHI results in an increase in the frequency of daily maximum temperatures above 30°C (above 26°C on a weekly average), a threshold value that constitutes a natural hazard. Warm-spell occurrences are related to an increase in the number of acute diarrhea diseases (ADD), mainly in zones of the MCMA where the socioeconomic and environmental conditions are low (e.g., insufficient access to potable water). Vulnerable people are mostly located in new settlements along the periphery of the MCMA, where large numbers of hospital discharges due to ADD are reported. The combined effect of more frequent warm spells and increasing vulnerability results in higher levels of risk of suffering this type of health problem, mainly during the warmest part of the year. This analysis may serve to develop UHI mitigation strategies and early warning systems to manage high levels of ADD risk during warm spells.

Free access
Gabrielle Roesch-McNally, Michael Chang, Meghan Dalton, Scott Lowe, Charlie Luce, Christine May, Gary Morishima, Philip Mote, Alexander “Sascha” Petersen, and Emily York

Abstract

The Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4) provided the most up-to-date understanding of climate change and its effects on the Earth system and on consequences for the United States, including impacts and associated risks, along with approaches to coping with these effects. It is intended to provide guidance to decision-makers in governmental sectors while, in practice, providing guidance for nongovernmental actors. Its regional and topical chapters highlight current knowledge, uncertainties, gaps in knowledge, and emerging threats. The current knowledge and gaps can help set a research agenda to inform future national, regional, and local climate assessments and thereby support better decision-making. The evolution of the assessment, including greater diversity in participation, and more grounded research in the Northwest represents a growing and deepening engagement with more diverse participants. This shift emphasizes the importance of diversity, inclusion, and a greater acknowledgment of multiple ways of knowing, including local and Indigenous knowledge. The Northwest chapter reflects the broader shift in framing from NCA3 to NCA4 to better understand how climate impacts pose risks to things of value in each sector or region. It considers climate impacts through five broad ways in which humans relate to the environment: natural resource economy; heritage and quality of life; water, transportation, and infrastructure; health and social systems; and frontline communities. We reflect on the assessment process and identify three recommendations to improve the assessment outcomes and processes: seek new ways to 1) engage diverse authors and stakeholders and 2) value and integrate epistemic plurality and different knowledge systems, and 3) when gaps are identified, promote research or data collection efforts designed to fill those gaps. Done well, the assessment can build support and knowledge to facilitate community action, leading to broader resilience.

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David R. Perkins IV, Kristin Timm, Teresa Myers, and Edward Maibach

Abstract

Broadcast meteorologists—highly skilled professionals who work at the intersection between climate scientists and the public—have considerable opportunity to educate their viewers about the local impacts of global climate change. Prior research has shown that, within the broadcast meteorology community, views of climate change have evolved rapidly over the past decade. Here, using data from three census surveys of U.S. broadcast meteorologists conducted annually between 2015 and 2017, is a comprehensive analysis of broadcast meteorologists’ views about climate change. Specifically, this research describes weathercasters’ beliefs about climate change and certainty in those beliefs, perceived causes of climate change, perceived scientific consensus and interest in learning more about climate change, belief that climate change is occurring (and the certainty of that belief), belief that climate change is human caused, perceptions of any local impacts of climate change, and perceptions of the solvability of climate change. Today’s weathercaster community appears to be sharing the same viewpoints and outlooks as most climate scientists—in particular, that climate change is already affecting the United States and that present-day trends are largely a result of human activity.

Open access
António Lobo, Sara Ferreira, Isabel Iglesias, and António Couto

Abstract

Walking safety has been a primary concern for researchers and authorities, who have developed numerous studies concerning the interaction between pedestrians and vehicles. Nevertheless, few studies have focused on the impacts of weather conditions on pedestrian–vehicle collisions. This research aims at improving knowledge on this subject by investigating the impact of daily precipitation and the lagged effects associated with past accumulated precipitation. Using the city of Porto, Portugal, as a case study, an incremental approach consisting of three models, one Poisson and two negative binomial, was developed to explore the relation between weather conditions and the occurrence of pedestrian–vehicle collisions. The first model accounts exclusively for meteorological variables, providing an insight into the trends of crash frequency under the effects of temperature and precipitation. Then, variables for road classification and land use were introduced in the second and third models, respectively, to account for the diversity of the urban environment. These variables act as proxies for the level of exposure associated with different types of urban space, allowing for a more in-depth understanding of the impacts caused by meteorological conditions. The modeling results show that the number of pedestrian–vehicle collisions tends to increase on rainy days, following the general trend observed in the literature for other types of crashes. Regarding the lagged effects, the results show that the number of pedestrian–vehicle collisions is likely to decrease after a wet week but increases after a wet month.

Free access
Raoni Demnitz and Susan Joslyn

Abstract

The four experiments reported here tested the impact of recent negative events on decision-making. Participants were given a virtual budget to spend on crops of varying costs and payoffs that, in some cases, depended on drought conditions. Participants made 46 decisions based on either deterministic or probabilistic seasonal climate predictions. Participants experienced a sequence of droughts either immediately prior to the target trials (recent condition) or early in the sequence (distant condition). In experiment 1, participants made overly cautious crop choices when droughts were experienced recently. Subsequent experiments probed the cognitive mechanisms involved. The effect of recency on overcautiousness was reduced by a midexperiment message, although it did not matter whether the message described a changed or consistent venue and time period. This suggests that overcautiousness was not caused by deducing a climatic trend in the particular area. Instead, we argue that availability—events that are easier to recall are judged to be more likely—was the major cause for increased cautiousness following recent droughts. Importantly, probabilistic predictions attenuated the impact of recency, inspired greater trust, and allowed participants to make better decisions overall than did deterministic predictions. Implications are discussed.

Free access
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.

Free access