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Integrated Social Science-Weather Research Julie L. Demuth – National Center for Atmospheric Research, Societal Impacts Program Colorado.

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Presentation on theme: "Integrated Social Science-Weather Research Julie L. Demuth – National Center for Atmospheric Research, Societal Impacts Program Colorado."— Presentation transcript:

1 Integrated Social Science-Weather Research Julie L. Demuth – National Center for Atmospheric Research, Societal Impacts Program Colorado State University, Dept. of Journalism and Technical Communication 13 June 2012

2 Ex. 1 Q: According to the forecast, what is the chance there will be 1 inch of snow in the period from noon to 6 pm on Feb 28?

3 Ex Marions story Then the 2 nd siren warning went off … then I took notice and I decided this is something serious. And my son-in-law next door … called me, and he at that point was concerned We were going to stay there in a closet … but then he went out and looked and he saw the tornado coming, and he said were going over to the storm cellar. And thats what we did. I didnt consider doing that earlier because its an old storm cellar and I myself could not have gotten into it because the door is so heavyits a steel door. But he could. Ive lived here for 36 years … and we hadnt ever used [the storm cellar] before.

4 About me School BS and MS in meteorology Pursuing my PhD in risk communication Career path From remote sensing of hurricanes CSU) … to science policy (in DC) … to hospice (almost) … to my passion, integrated social science-weather research I love… My job, hiking and backpacking, animals, IPA and trippel beers, Italian red wine, snowshoeing, music, scotch, sunshine, mountains, clouds, sparking water, cappuccinos and coffee, painting, pizza, bouldering, the number 422, laughing, weather, my family and friends, hospice, … and so much more!

5 Social sciences The study and understanding of human cognition, behavior, and culture Atmospheric scientists are humans too! Social scientists follow the scientific method. We have theories, concepts, conceptual models … but theyre dynamic. vs. Observation TheoryHypothesis Data collection Data AnalysisFindings p g z

6 Example theoretical model Extended Parallel Process Model – Kim Witte et al. 1996

7 Social sciences: Disciplines & methods Social sciences is an umbrella term referring to many fields, similar to physical/natural sciences Anthropology Communication Economics Education Qualitative and quantitative approaches Interviews Surveys Focus groups Experiments Human geography Sociology Psychology Content analysis Direct observation Participatory activities

8 Some of My (Collaborative) Research

9 #1: Creating & communicating hurricane risk information (CHI) Jointly funded NSF-NOAA grant Study goals Better understand how hurricane warning message content is generated through different actors Help improve the content and process of hurricane risk communication to promote effective decision-making Focus on the communicators!

10 CHI – methods Greater Miami area (parallel study in Houston area) Semi-structured interviews 5 forecasters (3 NHC, 2 WFO) 2 emergency managers 9 media from 4 TV and 4 radio stations (including non- English-speaking) Observational sessions with forecasters as they created mock hurricane forecast products Follow-on survey of the public

11 CHI – partnership results 3 groups have different roles and specialties, orientations, and environments 3 groups have common, overarching goals to (1) save lives and (2) reduce injury, property loss, economic disruption, and overall harm I couldnt do my job without [the NHC and WFO]. … With the hurricane, I dont have the tools, the data, and the knowledge that they do … so I rely on them almost 100% for info that Im getting. … Im an extension of them to get out their hard work. (Media)

12 CHI – challenges re: NWS products Challenge for media to easily extract needed info Those [products] are unwieldy … and you have to ferret through all of this stuff that gets mixed in together. (Media) Scientific and technical content can be confusing Sometimes scientists speak like scientists and not like people. You know, some people dont know what low pressure means, what high pressure means, and some people dont know and dont care what millibars are. They dont care … They want to know three things: what does it mean to them, what does it mean to their family, and what do they need to do right now. And so dont speak like a meteorologist. Tell me what we need to know. … I cant tell you in the middle of an emergency how many times weve looked at each other in the news room and said, Well, that was no help whatsoever, because we couldnt get numbers, specifics, what the public needed to know at that moment. (Media)

13 CHI – challenges re: uncertainty EMs account for hurricane forecast uncertainty by being conservative, assuming higher-end scenario NWS forecasters sometimes think EMs dont want uncertainty if they dont use specific NWS info We say, When [the hurricane] comes straight nonstop and it intensifies, thats how we plan for the uncertainty. (EM) [Emergency managers] typically dont like probabilistic. They usually get frustrated and dont want to mess with it. (NHC forecaster) All results available via AMS early online release: Demuth, Morss, Morrow, and Lazo, 2012: Creating and Communicating Hurricane Information. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, in press.

14 Theoretical applications to weather! Remember the Extended Parallel Process Model Self efficacy, response efficacy Susceptibility and severity Fear appeals

15 #2: Assessing and improving NWS point-and-click webpage (ForAAG) Weather.gov is the face of NWS NWS point-and-click (PnC) page is a key channel for conveying local forecasts, including hazardous weather forecasts Overarching goal Conduct robust, representative research to guide NWS policy changes for improving communication effectiveness of PnC forecast information

16 ForAAG methods Experimental design in a survey Manipulate variables (holding everything else constant) then measure an outcome then examine the effect Allows for causal inference Separate designs for short-fused and long-fused threats

17 1 st haz wx survey (short-fused event) 2 x 2 x 2 factorial design – 3 information pieces (variables) each with 2 levels (with/without) Box – to convey threat timing and existence Bar – to convey threat timing and existence Until text – to convey threat end time Total of 8 different designs; each respondent gets only 1 No BoxBox BarNo BarBarNo Bar UntilForecast 1Forecast 2Forecast 3Forecast 4 No untilForecast 5 Forecast 6 (status quo/control) Forecast 7Forecast 8

18 Short-fuse – Severe t-storm warning

19 Results The punchline Current forecast (status quo) poorest overall Bar not effective (!) in helping people notice the threat, understand timing, and not perceived favorably Until text mostly effective; exception is it seems to make people think the threat is already in effect Box mostly effective; minor hiccup is may be confusing some people about the threat end time when coupled with the until information

20 2 nd haz wx survey

21 Prob forecast – understanding Q: According to the forecast, what is the chance there will be 1 inch of snow in the period from… (for 6-hr prob) …noon to 6 pm on Feb 28? (for 12-hr prob) …6 pm Feb 28 to 6 am Feb 29? 60% 95%

22 Understanding responses Poor understanding overall Less than ½ of respondents answer correctly Nearly ¼ indicate they dont know n=3717 n=3747

23 Take home thoughts from a meteoro-communic-ologist

24 Information in action out Forecast & response information (watch, warning, media message, EM message, multi-media briefing) Peoples interpretation & response Mediating & moderating variables! Most people respond; very few outright reject/ignore the warning…but response is complex and NOT just about weather Recognize and work within this reality

25 We make lots of assumptions That people …are complacent …ignore threats due to false alarms …feel overwarned …have an ideal warning lead-time …should be highly literate about weather information These are empirical questions and they vary based on the weather situation!

26 Atmos + soc sciences Humans are like the atmosphere … both are nonlinear and dynamic, but there are common patterns We each have our own focused area of expertise … it behooves us to recognize that and work with others There are a LOT of exciting research problems that fall at the interface of weather/climate and society


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