Fourth Symposium on Policy and Socio—Economic Research
21st Conference on Climate Variability and Change
Eighth Symposium on the Urban Environment


Scales of perception: public awareness of neighborhood and regional temperature differences

Darren M. Ruddell, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ; and S. L. Harlan, S. Grossman-Clarke, and G. Chowell

Increasing global temperature, particularly in cities, has precipitated an influx of research on climate change. While physical changes in climate are well documented (e.g., mounting temperature, sea level rise, retreating polar ice caps), social perceptions of climate are relatively under-researched. Understanding public perceptions, however, is critical for developing an effective strategy to mitigate the effects of human activity on the natural environment and to reduce human vulnerability to the impacts of climate change. While assessments of climate have traditionally examined broad spatial scales (e.g., global, national) as well as broad themes (climate), this paper investigated people's perceptions of temperature within one urban area. Specifically, temperature is examined as one dimension of climate change by relating self-reported perceptions on temperature from a social survey of Phoenix, AZ (USA) metropolitan area residents to output from the Weather Research and Forecast (WRF) climate model. The analysis offers a comparison of perceived temperature with simulated temperature at the neighborhood and regional scales. Results indicated that residents are variably exposed to high temperatures throughout the Phoenix metropolitan area; public perceptions of temperature are more strongly correlated with proximate environmental conditions than with distal conditions; and perceptions of temperature are related to social characteristics and situational variables.

KEY WORDS: environmental perception, climate change, temperature, scale, GIS.

wrf recording  Recorded presentation

Joint Session 6, Urban Implications of Climate Change and Population Growth
Thursday, 15 January 2009, 11:00 AM-12:15 PM, Room 121A

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