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Zoe Schroder and James B. Elsner

Abstract

Environmental variables are routinely used in estimating when and where tornadoes are likely to occur, but more work is needed to understand how tornado and casualty counts of severe weather outbreak vary with the larger-scale environmental factors. Here the authors demonstrate a method to quantify “outbreak”-level tornado and casualty counts with respect to variations in large-scale environmental factors. They do this by fitting negative binomial regression models to cluster-level environmental data to estimate the number of tornadoes and the number of casualties on days with at least 10 tornadoes. Results show that a 1000 J kg−1 increase in CAPE corresponds to a 5% increase in the number of tornadoes and a 28% increase in the number of casualties, conditional on at least 10 tornadoes and holding the other variables constant. Further, results show that a 10 m s−1 increase in deep-layer bulk shear corresponds to a 13% increase in tornadoes and a 98% increase in casualties, conditional on at least 10 tornadoes and holding the other variables constant. The casualty-count model quantifies the decline in the number of casualties per year and indicates that outbreaks have a larger impact in the Southeast than elsewhere after controlling for population and geographic area.

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Brooke Fisher Liu and Anita Atwell Seate

Abstract

Since the tragic tornado outbreaks in central Alabama and Joplin, Missouri, in 2011, the National Weather Service (NWS) has increasingly emphasized the importance of supporting community partners who help to protect public safety. Through impact-based decision support services (IDSS), NWS forecasters develop relationships with their core partners to meet their partners’ decision-making needs. IDSS presents a fundamental shift in NWS forecasting through highlighting the importance of connecting with partners instead of simply providing partners with forecasts. A critical challenge to the effective implementation of IDSS is a lack of social science research evaluating the success of IDSS. This paper addresses this gap through a cross-sectional survey with 119 NWS forecasters and managers in the central and southern regions of the United States. Findings uncover how NWS forecasters and management team members evaluate the importance of IDSS. Findings also provide a new instrument for NWS field offices to assess and improve their relationships with core partners.

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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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Hua He, Guorong Chai, Yana Su, Yongzhong Sha, Shengliang Zong, and Hairong Bao

Abstract

This study assessing the lag and interactive effects between the daily average temperature and relative humidity on respiratory disease (RD) morbidity in Lanzhou, China, using data from daily outpatient visits for RD between 2014 and 2017 and meteorological and pollutant data during the same period analyzed with Poisson generalized linear model and distributed lag nonlinear models; the effects are further explored by classifying the RD by gender, age, and disease type. The results showed that the effect of temperature and relative humidity on outpatient visits of different populations and types of RD is nonlinear, with a significant lag effect. Relative to 11°C, every 1°C decrease in temperature is associated with 10.98% [95% confidence interval (CI): 9.87%–12.11%] increase for total RD. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is affected only by low temperature, upper respiratory tract infection is affected by both low and high temperatures, and asthma is influenced by high temperature. When the relative humidity is less than 32%, every 1% decrease in relative humidity is associated with 6.00% (95% CI: 3.00%–9.11%) increase for total RD; relative humidity has different effects on the outpatient risk of different types of RD. Temperature and relative humidity have an obvious interactive effect on different types and populations of RD: when both temperature and humidity are at low levels, the number of outpatient visits for RD is higher. When the relative humidity is ≤50% and the temperature is ≤11°C, total RD outpatient visits increase by 4.502% for every 1°C drop in temperature; that is, a dry environment with low temperature has the most significant impact on RD.

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Basanta Raj Adhikari

Abstract

Lightning is one of the most devastating hazards in Nepal because of 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 USD 110,982, and the fatality number was the highest (94) 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 the DesInventar dataset and the Disaster Risk Reduction portal of the government of Nepal using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) and geographic 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. 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 a total of 2501 lightning fatality events in which 1927 people lost their lives and 20 569 people were affected. The increase in lightning fatality events in recent years is due to internet penetration and other measures of information gathering that result in lightning fatality reports reaching agencies collecting information. The high and low concentrations 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 Himalayas to save life and property.

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Manishka De Mel, William Solecki, Radley Horton, Ryan Bartlett, Abigail Hehmeyer, Shaun Martin, and Cynthia Rosenzweig

Abstract

Integrating climate risk information into resilience-building activities in the field is important to ensure that adaptation is based on the best available science. Despite this, many challenges exist when developing, communicating, and incorporating climate risk information. There are limited resources on how stakeholders perceive risks, use risk information, and what barriers exist to limit knowledge integration. This paper seeks to define the following: 1) What do conservation stakeholders consider to be the most significant climate risks they face now and possibly in the future? 2) What have been the most significant barriers to their using climate risk information? 3) What sources and types of knowledge would be most useful for these managers to overcome these barriers? A survey was conducted among stakeholders (n = 224) associated with World Wildlife Fund projects in tropical and subtropical countries. A very high proportion of stakeholders used climate risk information and yet faced integration-related challenges, which included too much uncertainty and the lack of a relevant scale for planning. The main factors preventing the use of climate risk information in decision-making were unavailability of climate risk information, no or limited financial or human resources available to respond, lack of organizational mandate or support, and no or limited institutional incentives. Comparing perceived current and future risks revealed a decline in concern for some future climate hazards. Survey respondents identified scientific reports, climate scientists, and online sources as the most useful information sources of climate risk information, while (i) maps and illustrations; (ii) scenarios format; and (iii) data tables, graphs, and charts were identified as user-friendly formats.

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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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Victoria A. Johnson, Kimberly E. Klockow-McClain, Randy A. Peppler, and Angela M. Person

Abstract

Residents of the Oklahoma City metropolitan area are frequently threatened by tornadoes. Previous research indicates that perceptions of tornado threat affect behavioral choices when severe weather threatens, and as such are important to study. In this paper, we examine the potential influence of tornado climatology on risk perception. Residents across central Oklahoma were surveyed about their perceptions of tornado proneness for their home location, and this was compared to the local tornado climatology. Mapping and programming tools were then used to identify relationships between respondents’ perceptions and actual tornado events. Research found that some dimensions of the climatology, such as tornado frequency, nearness, and intensity have complex effects on risk perception. In particular, tornadoes that were intense, close, and recent had the strongest positive influence on risk perception, but weaker tornadoes appeared to produce an “inoculating” effect. Additional factors were influential, including sharp spatial discontinuities between neighboring places that were not tied to any obvious physical feature or the tornado climatology. Respondents holding lower perceptions of risk also reported lower rates of intention to prepare during tornado watches. By studying place-based perceptions, this research aims to provide a scientific basis for improved communication efforts before and during tornado events, and for identifying vulnerable populations.

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Ronald L. Holle, William A. Brooks, and Kenneth L. Cummins

Abstract

National park visitors travel primarily to view natural features while outdoors, however visits often occur in warmer months when lightning is present. This study uses cloud-to-ground flashes from 1999-2018 and cloud-to-ground strokes from 2009-2018 from the National Lightning Detection Network to identify lightning at the 46 contiguous United States national parks larger than 100 km2. The largest density is 6.10 flashes km-2 y-1 within Florida’s Everglades, and the smallest is near zero in Pinnacles National Park.

The six most-visited parks are Great Smoky Mountains, Grand Canyon, Rocky Mountain, Zion, Yosemite, and Yellowstone. For these parks, lightning data are described by frequency, location and time of year and day. The four parks west of the Continental Divide have most lightning from 01 July to 15 September, and 1100 to 1900 LST. Each park has its own spatial lightning pattern dependent on local topography.

Deaths and injuries from lightning within national parks have the same summer afternoon dominance shown by lightning data. Most casualties occur to people visiting from outside the parks’ states. The most common activities and locations are mountain climbing, hiking, and viewing canyons from overlooks.

Lightning Fatality Risk, the product of areal visitor and CG flash densities, shows that many casualties are not in parks with high Risk, while very small Risk indicates parks where lightning awareness efforts can be minimized. As a result, safety advice should focus on specific locations where lightning-vulnerable activities are engaged by many visitors such as canyon rims, mountains and exposed high-altitude roads.

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Maqsooda Mahomed, Alistair D. Clulow, Sheldon Strydom, Tafadzwanashe Mabhaudhi, and Michael J. Savage

Abstract

Climate change projections of increases in lightning activity are an added concern for lightning-prone countries such as South Africa. South Africa’s high levels of poverty, lack of education and awareness, as well as a poorly developed infrastructure increases the vulnerability of rural communities to the threat of lightning. Despite the existence of national lightning networks, lightning alerts and warnings are not disseminated well to such rural communities. We therefore developed a community-based early warning system (EWS) to detect and disseminate lightning threats and alerts in a timeous and comprehensible manner within Swayimane, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. The system comprised of an electrical field meter and a lightning flash sensor with warnings disseminated via audible and visible alarms on-site and with a remote server issuing short message services (SMSs) and email alerts. Twelve months of data (February 2018-February 2019) were utilized to evaluate the performance of the EWS’s detection and warning capabilities. Diurnal variations in lightning activity indicated the influence of solar radiation, causing convective conditions with peaks in lightning activity occurring during the late afternoon and early evening (between 14h00 and 21h00) coinciding with learners being released from school and when most workers return home. In addition to detecting the threat of lightning, the EWS was beneficial in identifying periods that exhibited above-normal lightning activity with two specific lightning events examined in detail. Poor network signals in rural communities was an initial challenge delaying data transmission to the central server until rectified using multiple network providers. Overall, the EWS was found to disseminate reliable warnings timeously.

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