Experiences of natural climate variability in Newfoundland and Labrador

Vilá, Olivia Francis (2018) Experiences of natural climate variability in Newfoundland and Labrador. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Climate variability is the semi-regular fluctuation of climate about its mean state. Whereas there is considerable research into how daily variability and long-term change may influence attitudes and perceptions of climate change, the influence of climate variability acting over timescales between these extremes (i.e. interannual anomalies, decadal cycles) has mostly been neglected in human dimensions of climate research. This lack of consideration of long-term climate variability has limited our capacity to assess climate perceptions effectively and holistically. The goal of this research was to explore the extent to which individuals notice, interpret, and communicate climate variability. Through semi-structured, one-on-one interviews with people living in areas experiencing considerable climate variability, this research has begun to develop a baseline understanding of the weather and climate phenomena that are prevalent in participants’ lives. This project also analyzes some of the language strategies that individuals use to communicate weather/climate cycles and other relevant climate phenomena. Subsequent focus group discussions were used to test tools for communicating important weather/climate phenomena. Because human values and cultural meanings are often removed from climate science, climate-related information is difficult to understand and contextualize when disseminated to the public. By focusing on the social aspects of weather and climate experiences, this research identifies the climate features that matter most to individuals in the community being researched. The results of this project can inform future research investigating perceptions and experiences of past weather and climate phenomena. Furthermore, because longer-term variability is often misrepresented as counter-evidence to anthropogenic climate change by either those who do not understand or care to understand the phenomena, the results of this research can begin to aid in reducing the potential misinterpretations between natural climate variability and climate change.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/13572
Item ID: 13572
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 103-116).
Keywords: variability, qualitative, climate change, perceptions, interviews, natural variality, Newfoundland and Labrador
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Geography
Date: October 2018
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Climatic changes--Public opinion; Climatic changes--Newfoundland and Labrador.

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