Language Issues in Weather Forecasts, Reporting, and Climate Change

  • Coli NdzabandzabaEmail author
Reference work entry


The role of language in communication cannot be underestimated even if language can be a hindrance to disseminating and accessing information. There are many language issues in the “new” long-term global phenomenon and study of climate change including global warming as well as weather forecasting, mapping, and reporting. Symbols are widely used as a language, a means of communication in mapping and depicting weather elements through the use of maps. All these symbols which show weather/meteorological elements have specific scientific meaning. The concept of weather is equally understood among the ordinary public across different countries and background. However, it is not the case with climate change. Therefore, much is still to be done in the area of climate change. What happens when this kind of information is disseminated and communicated about in other contexts, involving economists and politicians, media, and the general public? Much effort has been done to connect different nations to common knowledge on climate change, but the question remains: Is the understanding common? One of the many reasons for understanding not to be common is language. With the same understanding but different languages, we can tell different “stories.” The meaning that people ascribe to climate change is closely related to how climate change is portrayed in communication. Our understanding is also influenced by overarching international debates. New multidisciplinary approach on climate change research needs to be incorporated to close this gap. This calls for the integration of linguistics, thus enabling policy-makers to communicate at the local as well as at a global scale about what needs to be done and to develop relevant, rigorous, climate-smart, and more action-oriented policies. Inappropriate use of language and terminologies, misconceptions related to weather and climate change, climate change perceptions and communication as well as recommendations thereof are discussed.


Climate Climate change Language Misconceptions Weather 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Water ResearchRhodes UniversityGrahamstownSouth Africa

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