“It Goes Up and Down like a Dog’s Breakfast!”: Exploring Local Perceptions of Climate Variability in Newfoundland and Labrador

Authors: Marilyn Koitnurm*, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Olivia Vila, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Joel Finnis, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Mark C.J. Stoddart, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Atanu Sarkar, Memorial University of Newfoundland
Topics: Human-Environment Geography, Communication, Climatology and Meteorology
Keywords: Climate variability, perceptions, climate science communication, weather
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 12:40 PM / 2:20 PM
Room: Napoleon B3, Sheraton 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


A vast majority of climate communication research that takes into account people’s personal lived experiences of weather and climate focuses on communicating climate change and its impacts. However, there is little knowledge available regarding communication around long-term climate variability, acting from days to decades. Therefore, long-term climate variability is neglected in local climate science communication, and also, limited knowledge about public perceptions of climate variability has translated into a lack of effective communication strategies. The province of Newfoundland and Labrador is a good example of a geographic location which is significantly influenced by regional inter-annual and decadal climate variability, frequently obscuring global-scale warming. The degree to which people living in this province perceive climate variability remains unclear, and/or which experiences inform the understanding of long-term climate variability. Addressing this knowledge gap, in-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted with local residents and also, connections between personal narratives and local climate records were explored, in order to identify key events which could affect the perceptions of climate variability. Subsequently, focus group discussions were conducted to test preliminary tools which could help communicating climate variability. This presentation focuses on discussing to what extent should climate variability inform local climate science communication strategies and also, what are the possible avenues how to enhance communication strategies in locally meaningful ways.

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