Influence of Waterbody Proximity and Flood Experiences on Perceptions of Climate Change in the Tampa Bay Region

Authors: Kyle Pecsok*, Clark University , Shawn Landry, University of South Florida, Rebecca Zarger, University of South Florida, Leah Finegold, Oberlin College, Katia Kozachok, University of Minnesota, Morris
Topics: Hazards and Vulnerability
Keywords: Climate Change, Outreach, Adaptation, Vulnerability
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Balcony B, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Climate change is a phenomenon that has the potential to harm many communities over time if nothing is done to halt or lessen its impact. Sea level rise is one of the climate change-related impacts that are of concern to coastal areas. In the coastal areas of the Tampa Bay region of Florida, rising sea levels could lead to flooded communities and worsen urban street flooding associated with extreme rainfall events. In order to take preventative measures, local policy needs to be implemented to adapt and lessen the impacts of climate change. Support for local policies is influenced by residents’ perceptions of climate change and associated impacts. Previous studies have found that closeness to coast, gender, race, political affiliation, and income can impact one’s perceptions of climate change. This study conducted a semi-structured survey in several public spaces in urban Tampa, Florida to evaluate residents’ opinions and perceptions related to climate change. A total of 65 surveys were collected. The surveys examined how residents perceive climate change based on the distance they live from three different water body types (Tampa Bay, River/Creeks, Lakes/Ponds) and their experiences with flooding. Residents who lived closer to Tampa Bay and/or a river/creek had higher levels of concern for climate change impacting their area. Flooding experience did not impact concern about climate change. Understanding and acknowledging residents’ perceptions and concerns about climate change could allow for local officials and policy makers to bridge the gap between climate science and the public.

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