For FY13-14, USWRP competitively selected social science research that enables NOAA to test research results that improve communication during dangerous weather situations. Researchers from the Universities of Oklahoma and North Carolina, Arizona State University, East Carolina University, and a non-profit organization in Pennsylvania won the competition and have presented their findings to meteorologists in the weather enterprise. Their topics ranged from assessing the National Weather Service's (NWS) flood forecasting products to understanding how the public understands tornado warning uncertainty information to improve how NWS communicates tornado warnings.
Tornado Warning Response
Research is being conducted to identify factors relevant to individual response in tornado warnings, testing specifically the polygon warning product and response tendencies for locations in and near a tornado warning. Different representations of these uncertainty messages will be used in choice experiments, including the use of verbal tiers, different cartographic schemes, and elongated deterministic warning polygons. By carefully controlling for each factor, impacts on decision-making and trust can be causally attributed to factor manipulations, elevating warning practice from the realm of anecdotal to theoretically sound choices.
Floods are the most common, costly and deadly natural hazard in the United States. NOAA has identified the need to improve weather decision services for events like floods that threaten lives and properties. The study of flood forecast and warning tools is being performed to understand how they can be enhanced to motivate public preparedness and warning response. The Nature Nurture Center is partnering with the Middle Atlantic River Forecast Center and the Weather Forecast Offices in NJ, PA and NY.
Severe Weather Decision Making
Decision-making to protect life and property under the stress of impending significant weather is complex, uncertain and often results in unpredictable outcomes. It is the objective of NOAA to understand the human dynamics and integrate the physical sciences with social science. This project explores the major influences on Emergency Management decisions in complex social networks and will collaborate with the National Weather Service including the Storm Prediction Center, Central, Southern, and Eastern Region forecast offices, and Weather Ready Nation pilot projects. They will use efficient approaches to highlight significant issues that inhibit the understanding of risk and the employment of good risk management practices. Using rapid prototyping techniques they will explore possible alternative products and services to understand and prioritize influences on complex decision making.
Impacts of Social Media on Severe Weather Reports
In another project, research is being focused on two distinct information flows of direct relevance to severe weather prediction and forecasting. The first component will characterize the patterns of social information flows that-either explicitly or implicitly-shape the ways regional forecasters employ social information in forecasting. The second component is based on streaming social media data in combination with systematic surveys that will collect real-time data about how members of the public perceive and respond to severe weather prior to, during and after an event. The Twitter data will consist of all posts that include any suite of severe weather terms. An assessment of the potential uses and products that can be developed using streaming real-time social data for severe weather response.