87th AMS Annual Meeting

Thursday, 18 January 2007: 2:15 PM
Connecting weather to the environment: A short course on watersheds for weather broadcasters
205 (Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center)
Joseph Lamos, UCAR/COMET, Boulder, CO; and M. Kelsch, D. Owens, D. Sliter, and S. Espinoza
Weather broadcasters are front-line communicators for helping the public understand not only the weather but also related weather impacts. Weather has an impact on the environment in which we live and an integral part of that environment are watersheds. When it comes to the protection of the environment, an informed and educated public is essential. This paper describes an effort that is the result of a partnership between the National Environmental Education and Training Foundation (NEETF) and the COMET® Program. NEETF and COMET have developed a Broadcast Meteorology Website and a corresponding two hour short course titled, Watersheds: Connecting weather to the environment.

The watersheds course compliments an on-going effort by NEETF called Earth Gauge™, which is a program that currently provides environmental tips appropriate to the three-day forecast for 53 television markets reaching 130 million viewers. These tips are written and designed to allow weather broadcasters to integrate them into their on-air weather reports. In a like fashion the watersheds course has been designed to achieve two major goals: 1) to convey scientifically sound information about watersheds and the relationship of weather to watershed health, and 2) to do so in a way that models how such information may be communicated effectively to the public. Another goal of the project was to design the materials in a way that broadcast meteorologists could readily borrow content from the course to use on their station websites, on the air, or in community outreach activities. This paper discusses design features of the course and demonstrates elements of it.

The online watersheds course provides broadcast meteorologists with education on what a watershed is, the characteristics of a watershed system, water sources and water quality within a watershed and watershed system, and finally how weather events relate to the environmental health of a watershed and the actions that the public can take to protect watershed health. Additionally, the course models multimedia design elements that the weathercaster can use when designing their own website offerings or repurposing the elements of the current watershed course. This paper discusses how such repurposing of existing content can be accomplished and how weather and the environment can be an on-going storyline for the public.

Broadcast meteorologists may receive professional development credit for this course under the AMS Certified Broadcast Meteorologist certification program.

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