Understanding Local Sea Level Rise Risk Perceptions and the Power of Maps to Change Them: The Effects of Distance and Doubt Academic Article uri icon


  • Audiences that view sea level rise as a distant hazard or hold doubtful or dismissive beliefs about climate change in general may not be receptive to information about this hazard. This study explores how maps may address these challenges to sea level rise communication by making visible the impacts of sea level rise on local communities. Using an interactive map of sea level rise in Sarasota, Florida and an accompanying online survey, it considers how college students from nearby and far away from Sarasota, and with different views about climate change, vary in their risk perceptions. Results show that, consistent with spatial optimism bias, risk perceptions increased more from pre- to post map for respondents far away from Sarasota than for those nearby, while respondents who were initially doubtful or cautious about climate change showed larger increases in risk perceptions than those who were disengaged or alarmed.

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 4.35

author list (cited authors)

  • Retchless, D. P.

citation count

  • 24

complete list of authors

  • Retchless, David P

publication date

  • June 2018