The Role of Risk Perceptions in Climate Change Communication: A Media Analysis on the UK Winter Floods 2015/2016

  • Viktoria Cologna
  • Rosalind H. BarkEmail author
  • Jouni Paavola
Part of the Climate Change Management book series (CCM)


In the winter 2015/2016 a series of storms resulted in widespread flooding in northern England, damaging hundreds of properties, disrupting transport and exposing public contempt of flood risk management. The flooding was widely covered in the media. This chapter develops a methodological framework to conceptualise factors influencing risk perception related to flood events and discusses the media’s role as communicator of climate change and related risks. We demonstrate how understanding the factors that affect risk perception, including how engineered flood defences might distort risk perception and therefore risk preparedness, can be utilised by the authorities to deploy more effective risk management policy and increase individual and community preparedness. Given that increased flood risk due to climate change is a reality, and that there is evidence that this increased risk is not yet understood by the public, nor addressed by the media, we suggest that a change is needed. Not only is there a need for more dialogue between those at risk and the flood risk management authorities and between experts and the public and the media and the public, but also a need for improved risk communication delivered with greater understanding of how at-risk communities perceive risk.


Flooding Risk perception Media coverage United kingdom Climate change communication 



This project was funded from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 659449 and from the School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds’s Research Experience Placement scheme. Jouni Paavola also acknowledges the support of the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) to the Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy (CCCEP).


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Viktoria Cologna
    • 1
  • Rosalind H. Bark
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jouni Paavola
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Earth and Environment, Maths/Earth and Environment BuildingUniversity of LeedsLeedsUK

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