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Public expectation as an element of human perception of climate change

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Human expectations regarding weather and climate sometimes lead to perceptions of climate change which are not supported by observational evidence. This paper analyses two very characteristic complaints about current climate in Switzerland, i.e., the lack of snow in winter and the lack of sunshine in summer, through a statistical investigation of climatological data. As one major problem of public perception of climate in mid-latitude regions is linked to the strong variability of the climatic parameters, the paper suggests means of presenting climatic data which include a measure of this variability. Such presentations would help overcome the common confusion between the terms ‘weather’ and ‘climate’, and stress the fact that short-term extreme events are not necessarily indicative of a long-term shift in climate.

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Rebetez, M. Public expectation as an element of human perception of climate change. Climatic Change 32, 495–509 (1996).

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