Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences

CSTPR Noontime Seminar: Saffron O'Neill

CSTPR Noontime Seminar: Saffron O'Neill

Place Attachment, Performance and Climate Change Adaptation

by Saffron O'Neill, Human Geography, University of Exeter

Abstract: The process of climate change adaptation requires an understanding of values at risk, in order that potential trade-offs, limits, and barriers are illuminated when making adaptation decisions. Whilst some values are quantifiable (e.g. land lost with sea-level rise), many are not (e.g. loss of unique places). Thus methods are needed which elucidate these important but intangible values at risk.

The small town of Lakes Entrance, Australia, is situated on a coastline highly vulnerable to flooding and sea-level rise. It is currently undergoing an extremely contested process of planning for projected sea-level rise. As such, it can act as an analogue for the process of climate change adaptation in semi-rural coastal settlements. A study was undertaken with residents to explore place attachment, and how these attachments might be impacted by flooding and sea-level rise.

This study responds to calls for geographers to be more imaginative in the types of methods they use to investigate the performance of the 'everyday'. Photo-elicitation was used, and found to be a highly effective methodology for elucidating the performance of place attachment. The photos and associated narratives revealed cognitive, affective and behavioural dimensions of values that are at risk – from the biophysical hazards posed by climate change, but also from the climate adaptation decision-making process.

Biography: Before coming to University of Exeter, Saffron was a Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Resource Management and Geography at the University of Melbourne, funded by the Australian National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility (NCCARF). Saffron completed her PhD at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, University of East Anglia, in 2008.

Saffron carries out interdisciplinary research at the nexus of climate science, policy and society. Her research explores risk perception, risk communication and public engagement with climate change; and the implications of these areas for public policy. She was awarded the 2011 UK Scopus Young Researcher Award for Social Science, awarded by Elsevier and the UK/US Fulbright Commission. The prize is awarded to early-career researchers, based on citation data and jury assessment.


CSTPR Conference Room, 1333 Grandview Avenue

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