7A.5 A Study of the Culture and Communication of Weather Information

Wednesday, 26 January 2011: 9:45 AM
606 (Washington State Convention Center)
Jennifer A. Spinney, Univ. of Western Ontario, London, ON, Canada; and E. Gruntfest and H. Lazrus

This paper presents preliminary findings from a study of the culture and communication of weather information among several groups of emergency managers and media broadcasters. In the US, weather information is produced and disseminated by many agencies and companies that aim to provide services that enhance decision-making and reduce risks to weather hazards. This research illustrates how relationships between partners in the weather enterprise are dynamic, ebbing and flowing depending on the situations. The relationships between partners are important to the process of providing relevant information to members of the public. A focus on relationships and culture goes beyond a focus solely on communication to investigate more deeply the contexts in which weather information is produced and transmitted. The ethnographically-informed findings from this project will improve understanding of the roles of emergency managers, media broadcasters, and weather forecasters in producing and responding to hazard information. The project will contribute to enhancing the hazardous weather information effectiveness.

Through in-depth ethnographic “field studies” the we examine several research questions, including • What are their responsibilities, routines, emergency procedures, concerns in everyday situations, at different times of the year, and during hazardous weather situations? • What are the differing and similar vantage points of emergency managers, broadcasters, and others? • How can new understandings of these perspectives help weather tool developers build more effective tools that will help them communicate hazardous weather information? The research project represents a collaboration between the Global Systems Division of NOAA's Earth Systems Research Laboratory and the Social Science Woven into Meteorology (SSWIM) Program within the Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies (CIMMS) at the University of Oklahoma (OU).

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