Investigating the Determinants and Effects of Local Drought Awareness Academic Article uri icon


  • © 2017 American Meteorological Society. Literature in environmental public opinion has recently focused on the linkages between biophysical conditions and opinion formation. Where environmental issues and weather are more severe, individuals have been shown to have greater perception of environmental risk and greater support for environmental protection. Perceptions, however, do not always reflect actual weather, and perceptions may actually matter more when it comes to the formation of opinions. This paper explores this possibility in the context of drought, examining what variables determine individual awareness of drought and further exploring how drought awareness influences risk perception and policy preferences. Using data from two nationally representative probability-based panel surveys, as well as data from the U.S. Drought Monitor, the analysis indicates that while drought severity is the largest predictor of drought awareness, ideological and demographic variables also play a role. Importantly, drought awareness is actually a stronger predictor of concern for water shortages and support for water policy than drought severity, showing that understanding what determines drought awareness may be crucial for building policy support.

altmetric score

  • 6.55

author list (cited authors)

  • Switzer, D., & Vedlitz, A.

citation count

  • 6

publication date

  • July 2017