Hot dry days increase perceived experience with global warming

Jennifer Marlon, Anthony Leiserowitz and 7 other contributors

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    Public perceptions of climate change in the United States are deeply rooted in cultural values and political identities. Yet, as the public experiences extreme weather and other climate change-related impacts, their perceptions of the issue may shift. Here, we explore whether, when, and where local climate trends have already influenced perceived experiences of global warming in the United States. Using a large national survey dataset (n = 13,607), we compare Americans' experiences of climate with corresponding trends in seven different highresolution climate indicators for the period 2008 to 2015. We find that increases in hot dry day exposure significantly increases individuals' perceptions that they have personally experienced global warming. We do not find robust evidence that other precipitation and temperature anomalies have had a similar effect. We also use multilevel modeling to explore county-level patterns of perceived experiences with climate change. Whereas the individual-level analysis describes a likely causal relationship between a changing climate and individuals' perceived experience, the multilevel model depicts county-level changes in perceived experience resulting from particular climate trends. Overall, we find that exposure to hot dry days, has a modest influence on perceived experience, independent of the political and socio-demographic factors that dominate U.S. climate opinions today.