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NOAA and Federal Highway Administration commission national study on social science to improve weather response
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NOAA and Federal Highway Administration commission national study on social science to improve weather response

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine to engage academia, public and private sector in study

While advances in meteorology fuel continual improvements to weather forecasts, there is growing awareness that a precise, timely forecast isn’t enough to prevent loss of lives and property. We must also deliver weather information to the public in ways that motivate people to take action to prevent loss of life and property.

Recognizing this need, NOAA and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) have asked the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine to conduct a major study to create a research agenda for conducting and applying social and behavioral science to improve weather forecasting, weather preparedness and response.

“To better prepare the public for severe weather, we need to take the next step in improving weather information,” said John Cortinas, director of NOAA Research’s Office of Weather and Air Quality. “The National Academies study will help by bringing together public, academic and private entities in the weather enterprise to lay out a clear roadmap for using social science to improve public safety.”

The National Academies has appointed Ann Bostrom, Ph.D., of the University of Washington, and William Hooke, Ph.D., Associate Executive Director and Senior Policy Fellow of the American Meteorological Society, to co-chair a committee of experts from the private sector, academia, and other parts of the federal government to conduct the study.

NOAA Research committed the lion’s share of funding for the $800,000 study, with smaller contributions from NOAA’s National Weather Service and the FHWA. With these funds, the National Academies will dedicate a large amount of staff time to collecting information, including interviewing subject matter experts, and they will host a workshop before issuing a report, estimated to be released in about a year.

The goals of the study are to: 

  • Assess current social and behavioral science activities and applications within the weather enterprise, the public and private weather forecast community.
  • Describe the potential value of improved integration of social and behavioral science to meteorological research and operations and users of weather information.
  • Develop a research agenda aimed at research to improve the nation’s weather readiness as well as fundamental social science
  • Identify infrastructural and institutional arrangements necessary to successfully pursue social and behavioral weather research and transfer findings for use in weather forecast operations.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, a group of nonprofit institutions, provides expert advice on some of the most pressing challenges facing our nation and the world. 

To learn more about the study, upcoming meetings, and sign up for study updates, please visit the study page.

Go online to read a Q & A with NOAA's Kim Klockow on how social and behavioral science can improve weather forecasts, preparedness and response

More information contact:

Monica Allen, NOAA Communications,, 301-734-1123

Riya Anandwala, National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine,, 202-334-3346.

Doug Hecox, Federal Highway Administration,, 202-366-2244



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Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR) - or "NOAA Research" - provides the research foundation for understanding the complex systems that support our planet. Working in partnership with other organizational units of the NOAA, a bureau of the Department of Commerce, NOAA Research enables better forecasts, earlier warnings for natural disasters, and a greater understanding of the Earth. Our role is to provide unbiased science to better manage the environment, nationally, and globally.


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