Communicating Sea Level Rise

Karen Akerlof, Michelle Covi, and Elizabeth Rohring
Created: 3/07/2017 - Updated: 5/24/2017

Abstract

Three quarters of the world’s large cities are located on coasts. As climate change causes oceans to warm and expand, and triggers vast influxes of water from melting ice sheets and glaciers, by the end of the 21st century, as many as 650 million people globally may be below sea levels or subject to recurrent flooding. Human beings have always faced threats from coastal storms and flooding, but never have so many of us and so much of our societal infrastructure been in harm’s way. With entire nations facing forced emigration, international online media are framing sea-level rise as a human rights concern. Yet sea-level rise suffers from generally low media attention and salience as a public issue. Coastal communities tasked with developing adaptation strategies are approaching engagement through new forms of risk visualization and models of environmental decision making. As a subfield of climate communication that addresses a variety of other anthropogenic and natural phenomena, sea-level rise communication also calls upon the less politicized field of natural hazards risk communication. This review explores media analyses, audience research, and evaluation of communication outreach and engagement, finding many remaining gaps in our understanding of sea-level rise communication.

Published On

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Keywords

Region: 
Sector Addressed: 
Culture/communities
Research
Target Climate Changes and Impacts: 
Sea level rise
Type of Adaptation Action/Strategy: 
Capacity Building
Increase / Improve public awareness, education, and outreach efforts
Create stakeholder engagement processes to develop and implement adaptation strategies
Habitat/Biome Type: 
Coastal