Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Mathematical Sciences

First Advisor

Christopher M. Danforth

Second Advisor

Peter S. Dodds


With the growth of the internet, data from text sources has become increasingly available to researchers in the form of online newspapers, journals, and blogs. This data presents a unique opportunity to analyze human opinions and behaviors without soliciting the public explicitly. In this research, I utilize newspaper articles and the social media service Twitter to infer self-reported public opinions and awareness of climate change. Climate change is one of the most important and heavily debated issues of our time, and analyzing large-scale text surrounding this issue reveals insights surrounding self-reported public opinion. First, I inquire about public discourse on both climate change and energy system vulnerability following two large hurricanes. I apply topic modeling techniques to a corpus of articles about each hurricane in order to determine how these topics were reported on in the post event news media. Next, I perform sentiment analysis on a large collection of data from Twitter using a previously developed tool called the "hedonometer". I use this sentiment scoring technique to investigate how the Twitter community reports feeling about climate change. Finally, I generalize the sentiment analysis technique to many other topics of global importance, and compare to more traditional public opinion polling methods. I determine that since traditional public opinion polls have limited reach and high associated costs, text data from Twitter may be the future of public opinion polling.



Number of Pages

147 p.