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  • School of Earth and Environment

    Using and visualising climate

    projections for adaptation planning in

    local government in the UK – a user

    study of adaptation practitioners

    Susanne Lorenz, Suraje Dessai, Piers Forster, Jouni Paavola

    Third Nordic International Conference on Climate Change Adaptation, Copenhagen,

    25-27 August 2014 Adapting to change: from research to decision-making

    Theme 2 – Mainstreaming

    25th August 2014 1

  • • Demands placed on visualisations

    • Research questions and design

    • Results

    – Objective comprehension

    – Subjective comprehension

    – Planning preference

    – Communication choices

    • Discussion

    • Conclusion

    • After thought – Does any of this currently matter for the target

    audience?

    Overview

    2

  • ‘To improve the ability to adapt to a changing climate, it is

    necessary to improve the linkages between the production

    and supply of climate-science information with users’

    needs to ensure that the climate science is contextual,

    credible, trusted and understood by the users.’

    (McNie 2013: 14)

    ‘The (post) modern world is visual.’ (Roth 2002: 1)

    Research context

    3

  • 1. Demand for visualisations to support user needs

    (Bostrom et. al. 2008)

    2. Demand for more effective communication of climate

    projections and evaluation of effectiveness (Stephens

    2012 et al., Gahegan 1999, Pidgeon & Fischhoff 2011,

    Fischhoff 2011)

    3. Demand for more experimental evidence on visual

    communication (e.g. Bostrom et al,. Spiegelhalter 2011,

    Broad et al. 2007, Pidgeon & Fischhoff 2011)

    Demands for visualisations

    4

  • • Communication should be tailored to the audience

    (Spiegelhalter 2011, Nicholson-Cole 2005)

    • Focus on the comprehension of visualisations and the

    preference for different visualisations (Broad et al. 2008,

    Pappenberger et al. 2013) – need to understand both for

    effective communication (Spiegelhalter 2011)

    • Understand comprehension in relation to objective and

    subjective knowledge (Stoutenborough & Vedlitz 2014) –

    connect to planning and communication process

    Guiding thoughts

    5

  • • Are there differences in levels of objective comprehension amongst adaptation practitioners?

    • Do objective and subjective comprehension vary?

    • What is the relationship between comprehension (subjective and objective), preference for visualisation integration into planning decisions and communication?

    • Can we make any best practice recommendations?

    Research question

    6

  • • Online-survey on visualising climate

    projections with adaptation

    practitioners in Local Government in

    the UK

    • 99 respondents from 84 Local

    Authorities from across the UK

    • 20 semi-structured interviews with

    adaptation practitioners in two case

    study regions in the UK (South East

    and East Midlands)

    Methodology

    7 Source: BMV Warehouse 2012

  • Survey design

    8

    Scatter Plot

    Pictograph

  • Survey design

    9

    Scatter Plot vs. Pictograph

    The same questions get asked

    for both graphs

    How many models project a

    decrease in summer temperature?

    None of the models project a

    temperature change above which

    temperature threshold (to the

    nearest half of a degree)?

  • Survey design

    10

    Bubble Plot

    Histogram

  • Survey design

    11

    Scatter Plot vs. Pictograph Histogram vs. Bubble Plot

    The same questions get asked

    for both graphs

    The same questions get asked

    for both graphs

    How many models project a

    decrease in summer temperature?

    None of the models project a

    temperature change above which

    temperature threshold (to the

    nearest half of a degree)?

    Which is the most likely

    temperature change projected

    by the models?

    Are you more likely to get a

    temperature change below -

    2.5°C or above 5.0°C?

  • Results – Objective comprehension

    12

    • Respondents accuracy

    does not change

    significantly between

    scatter plot, histogram

    or bubble plot

  • Results – Objective comprehension

    13

    • Respondents accuracy

    does not change

    significantly between

    scatter plot, histogram

    or bubble plot

    • Pictograph is the

    exception

    • So graph format

    doesn’t really matter?

  • Results – Objective comprehension

    14

  • Results – Objective comprehension

    15

    77% are better on traditional

    figures

  • Does it matter what we show?

    16

    47% are better on traditional

    figures

  • Results – Objective comprehension

    17

    9% are better on

    alternative figures

  • Does it matter what we show?

    18

    40% are better on

    alternative figures

  • Results – Objective comprehension

    19

    For 14% it actually does not matter

  • Results – Subjective

    comprehension

    20

    27% of respondents do

    objectively better on a

    figure other than the one

    they perceive to be the

    easiest to understand

    Very small link between objective

    comprehension and subjective

    comprehension

    Which figure did you find the easiest to understand

    Scatter Plot

    Histogram

    Pictograph

    Bubble Plot

  • Results – Planning preference

    21

    74% people would use a figure to help them

    make a planning decision

    If you had to make a planning decision, which of these figures would you find most helpful for your decision-making process?

  • Results – Planning preference

    22

    27% of respondents do

    not use the figure in a

    decision-making process

    that they objectively

    understand the best

    Scatter Plot Histogram Pictograph Bubble Plot Depends on the decision None of the above

    No link between objective

    comprehension and subjective

    preference

    If you had to make a planning decision, which of these figures would you find most helpful for your decision-making process?

  • Results – Communication choices

    23

    If you had to persuade someone on your organisation of the necessity to start

    planning for changes in future summer temperatures, which of these figures would

    you use?

    85% people would use a figure to help them persuade a colleague

  • Results – Communication choices

    24

    Scatter Plot

    Histogram

    Pictograph

    Bubble Plot

    I wouldn't use a figure at all

    If you had to persuade someone on your organisation of the necessity to start

    planning for changes in future summer temperatures, which of these figures would

    you use?

    No link between objective

    comprehension and subjective

    preference

    20% of

    respondents do not

    use the figure they

    understand the

    best to

    communicate with

    a colleague

  • Discussion

    25

    usable

  • Discussion

    26 Subjectively utilised externally Subjectively utilised internally

    Subjectively usable

    Objectively

    usable

  • • Audience (i.e. climate adaptation practitioners) is not

    homogenous – within group differences for comprehension and

    preferences

    • Complex interplay of (subjective & objective) comprehension

    and preferences

    • Question of transforming information from useful to usable (e.g.

    Lemos et al. 2012) - But how does usable translate to utilised?

    • Considering the divide between what users subjectively use and

    what would objectively be ‘better’ to use, is it even possible to

    make best practice recommendations?...

    Conclusions

    27

  • • … does anyone need them at the moment in our target

    audience?

    • Performance framework on climate adaptation in local

    government 2008 – 2011 - Adaptation moved up the agenda

    (Cooper and Pearce 2011)

    • Focus on economic benefits, energy saving instead

    – ‘It’s money, money, at the moment.’

    • Lack of political drive for adaptation

    • ‘Adaptation […] really dropped completely off the radar.’

    Practical setting

    Status quo of ad

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