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Enduring Extremes? Polar Vortex, Drought, and Climate Change Beliefs

Environmental Communication.Abstract

Some extreme weather events may be more likely to affect climate change beliefs than others, in part because schema individuals possess for different events could vary in encouraging such links. Using a representative sample of U.S. adults and geocoded National Weather Service data, we examine how a range of extreme weather event categories relate to climate change beliefs, and the degree to which individuals’ self-reported experiences are shaped by their political views across event types. For tornado, hurricane, and flood events, we find no link with beliefs. For polar vortex and drought events, we find that although self-reported experience is linked with climate beliefs, reporting of these experiences is influenced by political identity and partisan news exposure. These findings underscore a limited role for extreme weather experiences in climate beliefs, and show that events more open to interpretation, such as droughts and polar vortex disturbances, are most likely to be seen through a partisan lens.


  • Benjamin A. Lyons
  • Ariel Hasell
  • Natalie Jomini Stroud