Adapting to ‘extreme’ weather: mobile practice memories of keeping warm and cool as a climate change adaptation strategy

Yolande Strengers, Cecily Maller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Recent climate change adaptation policy positions previously mundane weather events, such as heatwaves and coldsnaps, as increasingly dangerous. Within this discourse of ‘extreme’ weather, the health sector is promoting climate-controlled indoor environments as a sensible coping strategy. Such responses mask our constant and ongoing adaptations to weather, which are becoming more dynamic and varied in mobile and globalised societies. In this paper, we are interested in reconceptualising adaptation as a series of everyday and remembered experiences with weather, which are situated within and carried by bodily social practices that contribute to keeping warm and cool. We are particularly concerned with what happens to these practices when those who carry them become mobile, through migration to other countries and climates. We consider the proposition that practices involved in staying warm or cool become more adaptable and innovative when they move. We explore these ideas through a study of international students who had recently moved to Melbourne, Australia from a range of countries. Using a ‘practice memory scrapbook’ method, we consider how student practices are resurrected, modified and/or transformed on arrival to a new locale, where memories are carried forward and disrupted by local varieties. Our analysis redefines the goal of adaptation as achieving tolerable, interesting, manageable, exciting, challenging and curious conditions; rather than pursuing comfort, familiarity and safety. We conclude that increasing exposure to varied weather conditions may enhance adaptive responses, and call for further research with mobile populations to provide further insight into adaptation to weather.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1432-1450
Number of pages19
JournalEnvironment and Planning A: Economy and Space
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • air-conditioning
  • climate change adaptation
  • heat
  • Social practices
  • thermal comfort
  • weather

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