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M. Sean Sublette and George S. Young

Abstract

The meteorological regime off the coast of North Carolina exhibits little synoptic-scale baroclinity during the summer months. As a result, the large-scale atmospheric forcing in this region is frequently weak. Given this weak synoptic forcing, mesoscale boundary layer circulations are dominant. One such circulation develops in response to the sea surface temperature discontinuity between the Gulf Stream and the relatively cooler water of the Continental Shelf. When synoptic conditions are favorable, differences in surface fluxes of heat and moisture across this discontinuity cause the development of an ageostrophic solenoidal circulation and the creation of an atmospheric boundary layer convergence zone. This resulting frontal zone, or Gulf Stream atmospheric front (GSAF), is a commonly observed feature in this region during the warm season.

Simulations using The Pennsylvania State University–National Center for Atmospheric Research mesoscale model are combined with data gathered from the High-Resolution Remote Sensing Experiment to study the effects of the Gulf Stream on mesoscale circulations in the warm-season marine atmospheric boundary layer. Particular attention was given to determining whether a model with resolution and physics similar to those of operational mesoscale forecast models can adequately predict this phenomenon. Although limitations in the horizontal and vertical resolution of the model prevent detailed reproduction of the meso-γ-scale structure of the GSAF, the model does produce a significant meso-β boundary layer convergence zone in response to the local SST maximum associated with the Gulf Stream. The magnitude of the modeled response is primarily a function of air–sea temperature difference, the local wind vector, and the depth of the boundary layer.

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Irina Feygina, Teresa Myers, Bernadette Placky, Sean Sublette, Tammie Souza, John Toohey-Morales, and Edward Maibach

Abstract

A rapidly growing number of TV weathercasters are reporting on the local implications of climate change, although little is known about the effectiveness of such communication. To test the impact of localized climate reporting, we conducted an internet-based randomized controlled experiment in which local TV news viewers (n = 1,200) from two American cities (Chicago and Miami) watched either three localized climate reports or three standard weather reports featuring a prominent TV weathercaster from their city; each of the videos was between 1 and 2 min in duration. Participants’ understanding of climate change as real, human-caused, and locally relevant was assessed with a battery of questions after watching the set of three videos. Compared to participants who watched weather reports, participants who watched climate reports became significantly more likely to 1) understand that climate change is happening, is human-caused, and is causing harm in their community; 2) feel that climate change is personally relevant and express greater concern about it; and 3) feel that they understand how climate change works and express greater interest in learning more about it. In short, our findings demonstrate that watching even a brief amount of localized climate reporting (less than 6 min) delivered by TV weathercasters helps viewers develop a more accurate understanding of global climate change as a locally and personally relevant problem, and offer strong support for this promising approach to promoting enhanced public understanding of climate change through public media.

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Edward Maibach, Raphael Mazzone, Robert Drost, Teresa Myers, Keith Seitter, Katharine Hayhoe, Bob Ryan, Joe Witte, Ned Gardiner, Susan Hassol, Jeffrey K. Lazo, Bernadette Placky, Sean Sublette, and Heidi Cullen

Abstract

Findings from the most recent surveys of TV weathercasters—which are methodologically superior to prior surveys in a number of important ways—suggest that weathercasters’ views of climate change may be rapidly evolving. In contrast to prior surveys, which found many weathercasters who were unconvinced of climate change, newer results show that approximately 80% of weathercasters are convinced of human-caused climate change. A majority of weathercasters now indicate that climate change has altered the weather in their media markets over the past 50 years, and many feel there have also been harmful impacts to water resources, agriculture, transportation resources, and human health. Nearly all weathercasters—89%—believe their viewers are at least slightly interested in learning about local impacts. The majority of weathercasters are interested in reporting on local impacts, including extreme precipitation and flooding, drought and water shortages, extreme heat events, air quality, and harm to local wildlife, crops and livestock, and human health; and nearly half had reported on the local impacts in at least one channel over the past 12 months. Thus, it appears that a strong majority of weathercasters are now convinced that human-caused climate change is happening, many feel they are already witnessing harmful impacts in their communities, and many are beginning to explore ways of educating their viewers about these local impacts of global climate change. We believe that the role of local climate educator will soon become a normative practice for broadcast meteorologists—adding a significant and important new role to their job descriptions.

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