Public perception of climate risks: Following Web communication trails during urban floods

Public perception of climate risks: Following Web communication trails during urban floods

Author: Rosa Vicari – HM&Co Lab / École des Ponts ParisTech. France


  • Daniel Schertzer – HM&Co Lab / École des Ponts ParisTech France
  • Ioulia Tchiguirinskaia – HM&Co Lab / École des Ponts ParisTech France

When climate hazards affect a city, environmental and physical impacts can be detected during and after these events. Similarly, social consequences of climate extremes, such as the public perception of climate change, can be observed. In the era of the interactive use of the Internet, huge numbers of Web data are spontaneously produced by the population during an extreme weather event. These “digital trails” can provide insight into the interactions existing between climate-related risks and the public attitudes towards these risks. According to this research, recent advances in computer-aided exploration of Web communications can be exploited to monitor these interactions, and contribute to the research on communities’ climate resilience.

The authors led a range experiments that show how digital research can be employed to identify key issues covered by digital media during a major flood, identify potential gatekeepers who can influence the debate, and describe how these actors and topics form debate clusters. Three corpora of Web communication data were extracted: press articles and tweets on the 2016 Seine River flood, and press articles covering the 2015 Alpes-Maritimes flood.

Through this analysis we detected topics and actors that characterise each press dataset, as well as frequent co-occurrences and clusters of topics and actors. Profiling of social media users gave us insights into who could influence opinions on Twitter. Through a comparison of the three datasets, it was also possible to observe how some patterns change over time, in different urban areas, and in different media contexts.

The results of this study are presented in R. Vicari, I. Tchiguirinskaia, D. Schertzer, B. Tisserand, Climate risks, digital media, and big data: following communication trails to investigate urban communities’ resilience, Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences Journal, This research was supported by the Chair Hydrology for Resilient Cities (endowed by Veolia).

The author has not yet submitted a copy of the full paper.

Presentation type: Individual paper
Theme: Technology