S109 @NOAA: Utilizing Twitter to Facilitate Science Communication about #Weather

Sunday, 22 January 2017
4E (Washington State Convention Center )
Leticia D. Williams, NCAS, Washington, DC

Science communication most commonly occurs through newspapers, television, magazines, the Internet (Besley & Tanner, 2011), and recently social media. However, there is scant research about social media as an effective channel for science communication (Gastrow, 2015; Lee & VanDyke, 2015). Hence, there is a need for science communication scholars to examine science discourse via social media such as Twitter. The purpose of this research is to explore how science communication occurs on social media, and whether Twitter can increase public engagement and understanding of science. Since science is a broad term that encompasses many different areas of study and disciplines, this study focused on tweets about weather posted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) between August 2015 and January 2016, including storm Joaquin, droughts on the West Coast, and the January 2016 blizzard on the East Coast. A thematic analysis of tweets revealed that NOAA used Twitter to share information and scientific terminology about weather, but minimally engaged the public in communication about weather or preparing for severe weather. This is consistent with previous research, which found that providing information was the most used social media strategy by federal government science agencies (Lee & VanDyke, 2015). The current findings not only contribute to the understanding of science communication, but also offer guidelines for the effective use of social media for scientists to share information and engage the public through social media.
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