CLIMATE CHANGE COMMUNICATION BETWEEN TV BROADCAST METEOROLOGISTS AND THEIR VIEWING AUDIENCE
Our census of 93 broadcast meteorologists at 25 TV stations in New England reveals that 67 have undergraduate degrees (13 also have graduate degrees) in meteorology or atmospheric science. Of these 93, 20 have other types of undergraduate degrees, and 11 have a meteorology certificate from Mississippi State Univ., which typically involves a 12-month on-campus program. Based on these results, for New England, we reject our hypothesis that TV broadcast meteorologists lack sufficient science background to understand climate change data. A survey to assess the climate literacy and level of acceptance of climate change findings among these broadcast meteorologists is ongoing.
In spring, 2013, a pilot survey of PSU’s meteorology program measured levels of climate literacy. The literacy assessment is based on the ‘Essential Principles of Climate Science,’ a joint effort of NOAA, AAAS, NASA, NSF, USAID, DOD, EPA, numerous NGOs, and individuals from varied professional fields. Although the number of meteorology students in this pilot survey is small (9 first year students and 7 graduating seniors), the results are still unexpected. The first year students show higher climate literacy on key vulnerabilities to climate change, such as freshwater resources, the economy, transportation, and the impact of changes in mean temperature. Both groups score poorly regarding impacts of CO2 on ocean pH, the purpose of phenology in monitoring climate change, knowledge of modeled outcomes of climate change impacts, and some forms of proxy climate data. During academic year 2013-2014, this survey will be administered in meteorology programs across the U.S.