Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2014

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Geography

First Advisor

Peter D. Blanken

Second Advisor

Alice Healy

Third Advisor

Donna Charlevoix

Fourth Advisor

William Travis

Fifth Advisor

Kenneth Foote

Abstract

This research seeks to understand how people in the Denver metropolitan area perceive and remember weather, climate, and climate change and how social, demographic, and environmental factors might influence these perceptions and memories. To do this, an online survey was completed in 2006 and in-person interviews were conducted in 2010 and 2011. The online survey and the in-person interviews both asked questions about recent weather, seasonal climate for specific years, beliefs about climate change and human impact on climate change, and social and demographic information. During the 2010-2011 in-person interviews, ambient meteorological conditions were recorded. For climate recollections, overall accuracy was about 20%. In general, women who were politically liberal, majored in a science field, believed in climate change, and were in a good mood were the most accurate for past climates. However, this accuracy was still only about 30%. For recent weather memories, the accuracy was about 50%. Time was the biggest indicator of accuracy, with the most recent weather being remembered the most accurately. When asked to rate the weather from positive to negative for specific events, respondents reported the weather with a negative bias for extremely negative flashbulb memory events. For perceptions about climate change, over 80% of the respondents in the Denver metropolitan area believed global warming was occurring and that humans had an impact on global warming. Over 80% of respondents believed that global warming will impact the Denver metropolitan area, however not all of these people knew how climate change would impact them personally.

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