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Climate Variability Adaptive Capacity: Perceptions of Alabama Farmers




Walker, Tegan

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation


Curriculum and Teaching


The purpose of this study was to describe the adaptive capacity perceptions of Alabama farmers to climate variability. Adaptive capacity is the ability to successfully respond to climate variability threats. Climate change and variability threats to agricultural producers include regional weather variability, extreme weather events, and long-term changes to the climate. Adaptation and mitigation to climate variability threats help producers adapt and transform their practices to more sustainable methods. Climate-smart agriculture (CSA) programs are an integrated approach to climate variability adaptation by increasing productivity, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and enhancing resiliency. CSA programs can help producers successfully respond to climate variability threats. The willingness of producers to adopt CSA programs could be measured through their perceptions of their adaptive capacity. Five dimensions were used to measure adaptive capacity; (a) learning and knowledge seeking, (b) experimentation and risk-taking, (c) decision constraints, (d) adaptive management, and (e) perceived efficacy. Participants were found to have somewhat strong adaptive capacity overall. Place and occupational attachment was also measured and found to be a statistically significant predictor of adaptive capacity. Participants who had previous climate variability education showed stronger adaptive capacity. Further research is needed to better understand place and occupational attachment implications on adaptive capacity. It is also recommended to implement CSA programs by first targeting producers with previous climate variability education with higher adaptive capacity.