Multi-year effort to systematically investigate how and why local decision makers in cities and large towns in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming prepare for and respond to weather and climate-related risk and hazards, such as blizzards, tornadoes, and floods
As a complement to studies that examine barriers to adaptation, PIs conducted a study of the drivers that lead to planning for and responding to weather and climate-related hazards at the municipal scale as a proxy for understanding what might drive adaptive behavior towards climate change. Municipalities in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming were chosen for the study, and researchers conducted face-to-face and phone interviews with multiple key informants in a randomly selected sample of 60 municipalities with populations over 10,000. The results suggest that municipalities do exhibit a wide variety of responses to weather and climate risk, despite similar levels of exposure in some cases. The reasons for these different responses are complex, and actions are not explainable by a single factor such as economic status or population size. Additional factors such as experiencing previous events, municipal champions, cultural values, and differences at the state level were found to have some influence, but individually these factors do not explain more than 5-15% of the variation in the municipal responses. These results have been drafted for publication, with submission expected in early summer of 2014. Following the initial interviews, the researchers conducted in-depth case studies with six of the municipalities to better understand the combinatorial relationship of the potential explanatory factors. Analysis of the case studies is currently being completed and will be submitted for publication.