Stakeholders from public, private, and third sectors need to adapt to a changing climate. Communications about climate may be challenging, especially for audiences with limited climate expertise. Here, we study how such audience members perceive visualizations about projected future rainfall. In semi-structured interviews, we presented 24 participants from climate-conscious organizations across the UK with three prototypical visualizations about projected future rainfall, adopted from the probabilistic United Kingdom Climate Projections: (1) Maps displaying a central estimate and confidence intervals, (2) a line graph and boxplots displaying change over time and associated confidence intervals, and (3) a probability density function for distributions of rainfall change. We analyzed participants’ responses using “Thematic Analysis”. In our analysis, we identified features that facilitated understanding—such as colors, simple captions, and comparisons between different emission scenarios—and barriers that hindered understanding, such as unfamiliar acronyms and terminology, confusing usage of probabilistic estimates, and expressions of relative change in percentages. We integrate these findings with the interdisciplinary risk communication literature and suggest content-related and editorial strategies for effectively designing visualizations about uncertain climate projections for audiences with limited climate expertise. These strategies will help organizations such as National Met Services to effectively communicate about a changing climate.
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