Helping to Build a Weather-Ready Nation with Social Science Research

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Monday, 3 February 2014: 11:45 AM
Georgia Ballroom 2 (The Georgia World Congress Center )
John V. Cortinas Jr., NOAA/OAR/, Silver Spring, MD

In 2012, NOAA issued a call for proposals to stimulate research and develop collaborations between social and physical scientists that can help build a Weather-Ready Nation. This presentation will describe the social science issues identified in two community meetings that formed the basis for the social science funding opportunity in NOAA and will be the initial presentation that will introduce four separate presentations (being submitted separately) that will describe social science research that was funded by NOAA as part of its Weather-Ready Nation initiative. NOAA expects this research will help to better understand human behavior and positively affect decision-making during weather-related events and the formulation and communication of forecast uncertainty, or forecast confidence.

NOAA and NSF sponsored two meetings in December 2011 and April 2012 to “develop a cohesive community of scientists, practitioners, and users who are committed to advancing an emerging and more unified paradigm that focuses more systemically on a warning system that will ultimately reduce the loss of life and mitigate the social and economic impacts from severe weather.” Workshop participants identified numerous recommendations for the entire community to help build a Weather-Ready Nation, including many that focused on the importance of understanding human behavior and the social dimensions to improve the communication within the weather community and to the public to invoke a response that will help protect life and property during dangerous weather events. Using this important feedback, NOAA announced a funding opportunity to address some of the social science issues that were identified in these meetings.

As a result of the call for proposals, NOAA funded the four highest ranked proposals. Award recipients included the University of Oklahoma, Arizona State University, East Carolina University, the University of North Carolina, and the Nurture Nature Center in Easton, Penn. These projects involved NOAA experts from the Storm Prediction Center, the National Severe Storms Laboratory, weather forecast offices, and river forecast centers will collaborate on them. The four presentations that follow this introductory presentation will discuss: (1) the use of twitter during severe weather, (2) how to motivate residents to prepare and respond to flood warnings, (3) which factors explain why people rush to shelter when a tornado warning is issued and why some do not, and (4) how the NWS can improve its products and services to provide helpful information to people who manage public emergency services. Other abstracts that have been submitted to the AMS that would need to follow this presentation are: (1) Social and Behavioral Influences on Weather-Driven Decisions: Prototypes for Severe Weather, (2) Flood Risk and Uncertainty: Assessing the NWS's Flood Forecast and Warning Tools, (3) The Cost of Taking Cover: Variations in Time Spent Taking Protective Actions During Tornado Warnings, and (4) Impact of Uncertainty Information on Tornado Warning Response.