Credit: Centre for Functional Ecology
Dr Charles Galdies, Senior Lecturer at the Institute of Earth Systems of the University of Malta was recently invited to address the plenary session of the 2nd World Symposium on Climate Change Adaptation held at the University of Coimbra, Portugal.
Consistent with the need for more cross-sectoral interactions among the various stakeholders, the objectives of the Symposium were to present research findings, exchange information and disseminate experiences in the field of climate change adaptation with a specific focus on integrative approaches. The proceedings are available online. The event was a joint initiative by the University of Coimbra (Portugal), the Research and Transfer Centre “Applications of Life Sciences” of the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences (Germany) and the Baltic University Programme in Uppsala (Sweden), in cooperation with International Climate Change Information Programme and the United Nations University initiative “Regional Centres of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development”.
Dr Galdies’ communication was based on latest research carried out jointly with Ms Claudia Attard and Dr Elisabeth Conrad. Entitled “Can 3D visualizations really convince small island coastal communities about the true risks of sea level rise?”, the study was accepted to appear as one of the leading chapters in the forthcoming Springer book Climate Change Management Series entitled “Theory and practice of Climate Adaptation”, to be published next year.
The scope of this research was to look at ways on how island communities can be convincingly informed about the impacts of sea level rise, since an understanding of these potential impacts is critical for people to engage in related adaptation actions. Effective climate communication may require more than just using language; the use of virtual reality, 3D spatial technology, and digital elevation models can prove equally or even more powerful to enable the portrayal of risks and dangers posed by climate change. Using a case study in Malta, results showed the general public prefers 3D over 2D visualizations for various reasons, including a perception that these better reflect reality. Statistical analysis of the results shows that 3D visualisations are more effective in convincing respondents about the significance of sea level rise impacts. This study provides valuable insights for local authorities to understand what is needed to communicate messages related to climate change impacts in an effective manner, ultimately contributing to enhancement of coastal resilience and climate change adaptation.