Examining the social consequences of extreme weather: the impact of the 1947 winter in upland Wales, UK

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Abstract

Extreme forms of weather are predicted to become more frequent experiences in the future. However, the hardest event to mitigate against is the unexpected. In the UK, the occurrence of winter snowfall is difficult to predict, highly variable, both spatially and temporally and predicted to become less common in the future. This paper examines the consequences of the severe winter of 1946/1947 at the local scale through a Welsh case study of Cwm Tywi, a community of upland sheep farms. This community had shown great resilience during the snowiest winter on record in comparison with other, more urban communities, but the inhabitants eventually abandoned their homes because of the emotional distress caused by the loss of a large proportion of the livestock. In addition to the severity of the snow, perceptions of the extreme nature of this event and the community’s ability to mitigate as a result of rurality, self-sufficiency and remoteness are investigated through the analysis of interviews, oral histories, and other documentary accounts. This case study provides an insight into the complexity of understanding vulnerability, adaptation and resilience, which are temporally and spatially specific.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-53
JournalClimatic Change
Volume113
Issue number1
Early online date08 Feb 2012
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2012

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