Visualising climate change

Published on: 7 May 2014

Failing to understand how people value the symbolic, cultural or psychological aspects of a place can lead to conflict, according to the University of Exeter’s Dr Saffron O’Neill

Therefore, it is important decisions made about how we adapt to climate change take these important values into consideration.

Dr O’Neill investigated the issue of values in climate change adaptation in her Visualising Climate Change project, which drew on the work of University of Melbourne colleagues, who were examining the concept of fairness in adaptation decision making.

Visualising Climate Change looked at the Australian town of Lakes Entrance. Situated on a coastline vulnerable to flooding, the town has been subject to a number of controversial decisions made in preparation for projected sea-level rise. This allows it to act as an example for adaptation in similar locations.

The project involved showing residents photos to encourage them to describe how adaptation decisions impacted on the local things they valued - a method called photo elicitation.

Visualising Climate Change was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and was part of Dr O’Neill’s ESRC Future Research Leader fellowship.

Tom Lowe of Polygraph Productions produced the video


Dr O'Neill will be taking part in a live Twitter Q&A from 11:30 to 12:30 on 8 May, in the run-up to our Transformational Climate Science conference.

The Q&A will be an opportunity to ask her and other leading climate researchers questions about climate change, using the hashtag #askclimate. For more information, visit the event webpage.

Dr O'Neill will also be a panel member at the conference, which features a public open evening on 15 May. The conference will bring together some of the world's leading climate scientists, following on from the recent release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report (AR5). You can follow the conference on Twitter using #climate2014.

Related links

» Dr O'Neill's website
» Economic and Social Research Council
» Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

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