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Adrian Brügger, Christina Demski, and Stuart Capstick

Abstract

The proportion of the world’s population exposed to above-average monthly temperatures has been rising consistently in recent decades and will continue to grow. This and similar trends make it more likely that people will personally experience extreme weather events and seasonal changes related to climate change. A question that follows from this is to what extent experiences may influence climate-related beliefs, attitudes, and the willingness to act. Although research is being done to examine the effects of such experiences, many of these studies have two important shortcomings. First, they propose effects of experiences but remain unclear on the psychological processes that underlie those effects. Second, if they do make assumptions about psychological processes, they do not typically corroborate them with empirical evidence. In other words, a considerable body of research in this field rests on relatively unfounded intuitions. To advance the theoretical understanding of how experiences of climate change could affect the motivation to act on climate change, we introduce a conceptual framework that organizes insights from psychology along three clusters of processes: 1) noticing and remembering, 2) mental representations, and 3) risk processing and decision-making. Within each of these steps, we identify and explicate psychological processes that could occur when people personally experience climate change, and we formulate theory-based, testable hypotheses. By making assumptions explicit and tying them to findings from basic and applied research from psychology, this paper provides a solid basis for future research and for advancing theory.

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Julia Linder and Victoria Campbell-Arvai

Abstract

In the midwestern United States, intensifying impacts from climate change necessitate adaptation by the agricultural sector. Tree fruit agriculture is uniquely vulnerable to climate change due to the long-lived nature of perennial systems, yet very few studies have addressed how fruit growers perceive climate change and are responding to climate risks. For this study, 16 semistructured interviews were conducted with Michigan tree fruit growers to understand how their climate change beliefs, beliefs about adaptive actions, and climate-related risk perceptions influence adaptation behaviors. While there was a great deal of uncertainty about the anthropogenic nature of climate change, growers generally agreed that unprecedented changes in climate and weather patterns were occurring. Because of a perception of little control over future climate impacts, most growers reactively adapted to climate risks that negatively impacted their orchards by implementing measures such as frost protection, irrigation, pesticides, and crop insurance. This study highlighted that while proactive adaptations such as crop diversification, planting new varieties, and improving soil health will be necessary to increase farm resilience in the future, growers were unable to justify making these changes due to their uncertainty about future climate changes. The findings from this study highlight the need for future outreach efforts by university extension agents, private agricultural advisors, and federal and state agency advisors to provide educational information on the long-term impacts of climate change in order to help growers increase the resilience of their farm in the face of future climate impacts.

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Inez Z. Ponce de Leon

Abstract

Supertyphoon Haiyan hit the Philippines in 2013, causing massive damage and loss of lives. The media blamed the government for faulty warnings, including using the term "storm surge", which people reportedly did not understand. As a result, the national agency tasked with disaster risk management recommended translating the term for better response in future storms. Such an approach shortchanges the complexity of risk construction, and dismisses the possibility that different communities also have different understandings of risk. In this study, the researcher examined the special case of Coron, Palawan: a major tourist destination that is hardly hit by storms, but which became the site of Haiyan's last landfall. Guided by Encoding-Decoding Theory, the researcher interviewed local government officials, and carried out focus group discussions with representatives of two communities (whose names have been hidden under pseudonyms for this study): Central, close to the municipal center; and Island, a coastal village far away from potential aid and rescue. The researcher found a portrait of contrasts that split Coron: a mayor who surrendered all control and a risk management officer who planned for long- term hazard response; Island waiting for government instructions despite knowing about storm behavior and Central taking the initiative to create long term solutions. Island also knew what storm surges were, and did not need translation of the term. These findings show that risk constructions can differ even at the municipal level, which should prompt further research into the role of local knowledge in understanding risk and hazard warnings.

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Alexander J. Ross, Ryan C. Grow, Lauren D. Hayhurst, Haley A. MacLeod, Graydon I. McKee, Kyle W. Stratton, Marissa E. Wegher, and Michael D. Rennie

Abstract

Groundhog Day is a widespread North American ritual that marks the oncome of spring, with festivities centered around animals that humans believe have abilities to make seasonal predictions. Yet, the collective success of groundhog Marmota monax prognosticators has never been rigorously tested. Here, we propose the local climate-predicted phenology of early blooming spring plants (Carolina Spring Beauty Claytonia caroliniana, which overlaps in native range with groundhogs) as a novel and relevant descriptor of spring onset that can be applied comparatively across a broad geographical range. Of 530 unique groundhog-year predictions across 33 different locations, spring onset was correctly predicted by groundhogs exactly 50% of the time. While no singular groundhog predicted the timing of spring with any statistical significance, there were a handful of groundhogs with notable records of both successful and unsuccessful predictions: Essex Ed (Essex, CT, USA), Stonewall Jackson (Wantage, NJ, USA) and Chuckles (Manchester, CT, USA) correctly predicted spring onset over 70% of the time. By contrast, Buckeye Chuck (Marion, OH, USA), Dunkirk Dave (Dunkirk, NY, USA), and Holland Huckleberry (Holland, OH, USA) made incorrect predictions over 70% of the time. The two most widely recognized and long-tenured groundhogs in their respective countries – Wiarton Willie (CAN) and Punxsutawney Phil (USA) – had success rates of 54% and 52%, respectively, despite over 150 collective guesses. Using a novel phenological indicator of spring, this study determined, without a shadow of a doubt, that groundhog prognosticating abilities for the arrival of spring are no better than chance.

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Basanta Raj Adhikari

Abstract

The lightning hazard is one of the devastating hazards in Nepal due to a large amount of atmospheric water vapor coming from the Indian Ocean and a large orographic lifting of this moist air. In 2019, a total of 2884 people were affected with loss of 110982 USD and the fatality was highest (94) in reported lightning events in reported lightning events since 1971. The long-term analysis of this hazard is very scanty in Nepal. Therefore, this study analyzes lightning fatality events, fatality rates, and economic loss from 1971 to 2019 collected from Desinventar dataset and the Disaster Risk Reduction portal of the Government of Nepal using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) and Geographical Information System (ArcGIS) tools. The analysis shows that the overall countrywide lightning fatality rate of the entire period is 1.77 per million per year. The district lightning fatality rates range from 0.10 to 4.83 per million people per year and the Bhaktapur district has the highest fatality density (0.067). Furthermore, there were altogether 2501 lightning fatality events where 1927 people lost their lives and 20569 people were affected. The increase in lightning fatality events in recent years is due to internet penetration and other measures of information gathering that results in lightning fatality reports reaching agencies collecting information. The high and low concentration of loss and damage are mainly due to geographic distribution, population density, and economic activities. This study recommends the establishment of Lightning Early Warning Systems in the Nepal Himalaya to save life and property.

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Daniel Leppert, Tobias Dalhaus, and Carl-Johan Lagerkvist

Abstract

Extreme heat events cause periodic damage to crop yields and may pose a threat to the income of farmers. Weather index insurance provides payouts to farmers in the case of measurable weather extremes to keep production going. However, its viability depends crucially on the accuracy of local weather indices to predict yield damages from adverse weather conditions. So far, extreme heat indices are poorly represented in weather index insurance. In this study, we construct indices of extreme heat using observations at the nearest weather station and estimates for each county using three interpolation techniques: inverse-distance weighting, ordinary kriging, and regression kriging. Applying these indices to insurance against heat damage to corn in Illinois and Iowa, we show that heat index insurance reduces relative risk premiums by 27%–29% and that interpolated indices outperform the nearest-neighbor index by around 2%–3% in terms of relative risk reduction. Further, we find that the advantage of interpolation over a nearest-neighbor index in terms of relative risk reduction increases as the sample of weather stations is reduced. These findings suggest that heat index insurance can work even when weather data are spatially sparse, which delivers important implications for insurance practice and policy makers. Further, our public code repository provides a rich toolbox of methods to be used for other perils, crops, and regions. Our results are therefore not only replicable but also constitute a cornerstone for projects to come.

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Meaghan L. Guckian, Ezra M. Markowitz, Clay S. Tucker, Elsita Kiekebusch, Toni Klemm, Lindsey Middleton, Adrienne Wootten, and Michelle D. Staudinger

Abstract

Online science communities can serve as powerful platforms for advancing scientific knowledge, capacity, and outreach by increasing collaboration and information sharing among geographically distant peers, practitioners, and the public. Here, we examine the value and role of the Early Career Climate Forum (ECCF), a climate-focused online science community that is based in the United States and is dedicated to training and providing support to the next generation of climate scientists. In a survey of community users and contributors, we find that the ECCF played a unique role in providing users access to career resources as well as climate-related research and insights. Respondents also indicated that the ECCF provides them with a strong sense of community and a sense of hope for the future of climate science research. These findings highlight the importance of online science communities in shaping and supporting the next generation of scientists and practitioners working at the science–management interface on climate change issues.

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Stephen M. Strader, Alex M. Haberlie, and Alexandra G. Loitz

Abstract

This study investigates the interrelationships between National Weather Service (NWS) county warning area (CWA) tornado risk, exposure, and societal vulnerability. CWA climatological tornado risk is determined using historical tornado event data, and exposure and vulnerability are assessed by employing present-day population, housing, socioeconomic, and demographic metrics. In addition, tornado watches, warnings, warning lead times, false alarm warnings, and unwarned tornado reports are examined in relation to CWA risk, exposure, and vulnerability. Results indicate that southeastern U.S. CWAs are more susceptible to tornado impacts because of their greater tornado frequencies and larger damage footprints intersecting more vulnerable populations (e.g., poverty and manufactured homes). Midwest CWAs experience fewer tornadoes relative to Southeast and southern plains CWAs but encompass faster tornado translational speeds and greater population densities where higher concentrations of vulnerable individuals often reside. Northern plains CWAs contain longer-tracked tornadoes on average and larger percentages of vulnerable elderly and rural persons. Southern plains CWAs experience the highest tornado frequencies in general and contain larger percentages of minority Latinx populations. Many of the most socially vulnerable CWAs have shorter warning lead times and greater percentages of false alarm warnings and unwarned tornadoes. Study findings provide NWS forecasters with an improved understanding of the relationships between tornado risk, exposure, vulnerability, and warning outcomes within their respective CWAs. Findings may also assist NWS Weather Forecast Offices and the Warning Decision Training Division with developing training materials aimed at increasing NWS forecaster knowledge of how tornado risk, exposure, and vulnerability factors influence local tornado disaster potential.

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Sally Potter, Sara Harrison, and Peter Kreft

Abstract

Warnings about impending hazards help to minimize the impacts and reduce the risk of the hazard through encouraging an appropriate and timely behavioral response. Many hydrometeorological agencies are moving toward impact-based forecast and warning (IBFW) systems, as encouraged by the World Meteorological Organization. Yet little research has been conducted on such systems from the perspectives of agencies who are or would be involved in their implementation. We investigated the challenges and benefits of IBFW systems as perceived by participants from agencies internationally and within New Zealand. Interviews and workshops were held with meteorologists and weather forecasters, flood forecasters and hydrologists, and emergency managers. We found that the benefits of implementing IBFW systems included a perceived increase in the understanding of the potential impacts by the public, added awareness of antecedent conditions by forecasters, a possible reduction in “false alarms,” and increased interagency communication. Challenges identified by the participants included whether the system should be designed for individuals or society, a lack of impact data, verification of warnings based on impacts, a conflict with roles and responsibilities, the potential for conflicting messages, and the increased burden on agencies providing information to forecasters with a perception of little benefit in return. We argue that IBFWs could be designed for individual members of the public, with an increased focus on understanding vulnerability and capacities, and that more impact data need to be collected and stored to inform future warnings. Increased interagency coordination would assist with rapid decision-making and the success of IBFWs.

Open access
Vikram S. Negi, Shinny Thakur, Rupesh Dhyani, Indra D. Bhatt, and Ranbeer S. Rawal

Abstract

Mountains are important global sites for monitoring biological and socioecological responses to climate change, and the Himalaya has some of the world’s most rapid and visible signs of climate change. The increased frequency and severity of climate anomalies in the region are expected to significantly affect livelihoods of indigenous communities in the region. This study documents the perceptions of indigenous communities of climate change in the western Himalaya of India. The study highlights the power of knowledge and understanding available to indigenous people as they observe and respond to climate change impacts. We conducted a field-based study in 14 villages that represent diverse socioecological features along an altitudinal range of 1000–3800 m MSL in the western Himalaya. Among the sampled population, most of the respondents (>95%) agreed that climate is changing. However, people residing at low- and high-altitude villages differ significantly in their perception, with more people at high altitudes believing in an overall warming trend. Instrumental temperature and rainfall from nearby meteorological stations also supported the perception of local inhabitants. The climate change perceptions in the region were largely determined by sociodemographic variables such as age, gender, and income as well as altitude. A logistic regression, which exhibited significant association of sociodemographic characteristics with climate change perceptions, further supported these findings. The study concluded that the climate change observations of local communities can be usefully utilized to develop adaptation strategies and mitigation planning in the Himalayan region.

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