J8.3 Communicating Hurricane and Storm Surge Risks in the Modern Information Environment

Tuesday, 12 January 2016: 11:30 AM
Room 344 ( New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center)
Rebecca E. Morss, NCAR, Boulder, CO; and C. A. Davis, C. Snyder, K. Fossell, D. A. Ahijevych, K. M. Anderson, C. M. Barton, J. L. Demuth, H. Lazrus, L. Palen, J. Watts, and O. Wilhelmi

Hurricane predictions have improved significantly in recent decades, providing additional forecast and warning information to public officials and coastal residents. And yet, as Katrina and other recent hurricanes have demonstrated, major issues remain in communicating hurricane risks, especially storm surge, and in societal preparation and response. At the same time, advances in information and communication technology are rapidly changing how people access, combine, and share information when hazardous weather threatens. We will discuss a project that aims to understand and improve hurricane risk communication and protective decision making in their dynamic real-world context. The project focuses around building understanding of how evolving, uncertain weather forecasts and warnings interact with societal information flow and decisions as a hurricane approaches and arrives, in the modern information environment. To accomplish this goal, the research integrates study of the real-world hazard information system with computational physical and social modeling, using knowledge and methods from atmospheric and related sciences, computer and information science, and social and behavioral sciences. To understand the real-world system, we are collecting and analyzing data about how people communicate, perceive, and respond to hurricane threats from social media streams, complemented by focus groups with more vulnerable populations. This is combined with computational modeling research that includes high-resolution ensemble hurricane and storm-surge modeling and agent-based modeling of social actors who pursue, process, and transmit information. We will present the project goals and design along with initial results from the research, with an emphasis on predictability of storm surge across a range of lead times, storm surge “potential”, and their influence on protective decisions.
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