Perception vs. Reality: A Comprehensive Assessment of the Relationship between Perceptions about Local Weather and Climate and Instrumental Climate Data

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Tuesday, 6 January 2015: 11:45 AM
226AB (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Joseph T. Ripberger, CIMMS/Univ. of Oklahoma, Norman, OK; and C. Silva, H. Jenkins-Smith, D. Carlson, N. Carlson, and R. Dunlap

In recent research, scholars have worked to specify the relationship between public perceptions about local weather and climate and local conditions as recorded in instrumental climate data and, more importantly, the factors that moderate and/or mediate this relationship (i.e., Ruddell et al. 2012; Goebbert et al. 2012; Howe et al. 2012; Howe and Leiserowitz 2013). As yet, however, the jury is still out. Some studies have identified a strong and significant relationship between “perceptions” and “reality” whereas others have struggled to reproduce this finding. Among other things, this variation may stem from limitations in the quality and variety of perceptual and instrumental climate data used by the various teams investigating this relationship. In this project, we attempt to overcome these limitations by developing and administering a state-of-the-art survey of Oklahoma residents that is unique for three reasons: 1) it is longitudinal in nature, which allows us to track changes in perceptions over time; 2) it makes use of an address-based random sampling frame that limits the sampling error traditionally associated with RDD and Internet surveys; and 3) respondents are geographically identifiable, which allows us to systematically match their perceptions against high resolution instrumental climate data collected via the Oklahoma Mesonet. With these data in hand, we provide a comprehensive assessment of the relationship between perceptions and reality.