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The Understanding Risk group at Cardiff University are currently investigating how awareness of climate change might be linked to personal experience of extreme weather events.

Led by Professor Nick Pidgeon the group are surveying a nationally representative sample of one thousand, together with five over-samples in flood affected areas from the 2013-14 winter weather (Aberystwyth, River Severn, Dawlish, Humberside and West London).

Past work by the group suggested that if a link between colder weather and doubts about climate change was  “established, this might be considered evidence of a general misreading of the meaning of such discrete weather events, and point to the need for further refinement in the making of a distinction between ‘weather’ and ‘climate’”

(Public perception of cold weather events as evidence for and against climate change, S. Capstick N. Pidgeon 2014)

Past work by the team (Public perception of cold weather events as evidence for and against climate change) has found that personal experiences of weather events may help anchor the abstract nature of climate change to the familiar and concrete. However there are also concerns that public belief and concern about climate change varies in line with local temperature and temperature change—both actual and perceived.

The new work is funded by a grant from Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) to examine how experience of extreme weather – specifically, the flooding that affected the UK earlier this year – may alter perceptions of climate change. This research draws directly on the previous survey work undertaken for C3W.

The project, entitled Public perceptions of climate change in the aftermath of major national flooding was awarded £181,446 from the ESRC. with Professor Nick Pidgeon as Principal Investigator and Co-Investigators – Christina Demski, Stuart Capstick, & Adam Corner.