Local indicators of climate change: The potential contribution of local knowledge to climate research

Victoria Reyes-García, Álvaro Fernández-Llamazares, Maximilien Guèze, Ariadna Garcés, Miguel Mallo, Margarita Vila-Gómez, Marina Vilaseca

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

60 Citations (Scopus)


© 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Local knowledge has been proposed as a place-based tool to ground-truth climate models and to narrow their geographic sensitivity. To assess the potential role of local knowledge in our quest to understand better climate change and its impacts, we first need to critically review the strengths and weaknesses of local knowledge of climate change and the potential complementarity with scientific knowledge. With this aim, we conducted a systematic, quantitative meta-analysis of published peer-reviewed documents reporting local indicators of climate change (including both local observations of climate change and observed impacts on the biophysical and the social systems). Overall, primary data on the topic are not abundant, the methodological development is incipient, and the geographical extent is unbalanced. On the 98 case studies documented, we recorded the mention of 746 local indicators of climate change, mostly corresponding to local observations of climate change (40%), but also to observed impacts on the physical (23%), the biological (19%), and the socioeconomic (18%) systems. Our results suggest that, even if local observations of climate change are the most frequently reported type of change, the rich and fine-grained knowledge in relation to impacts on biophysical systems could provide more original contributions to our understanding of climate change at local scale.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-124
JournalWiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016

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