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House Science Committee Holds Hearing on Responding to Extreme Weather Events, Highlights Social & Behavioral Science Solutions

On September 26, the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology (SST) held a hearing on understanding, forecasting, and communicating about extreme weather and other events related to climate change. Witnesses included J. Marshall Shepard, Director of the Atmospheric Sciences Program in the Department of Geography at the University of Georgia; James Done, Project Scientist and Willis Research Fellow at the National Center for Atmospheric Research; Adam Sobel, Professor of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and Director and Chief Scientist of the Initiative on Extreme Weather and Climate at Columbia University; Berrien Moore, Director of the National Weather Center at the University of Oklahoma; and Ann Bostrom, Weyerhaeuser Endowed Professor in Environmental Policy at the University of Washington.

Members of both parties expressed their concern with changing patterns of extreme weather and questioned witnesses on prevailing weather research and opportunities to improve responsiveness to severe weather events. Much discussion revolved around the role of social and behavioral science research, with Members Randy Weber (R-TX) and Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) questioning Dr. Bostrom on how to incorporate social and behavioral science research in extreme weather responses and if there were any current gaps or barriers in that research. Other topics discussed during the hearing were the Mesonet environmental monitoring network in Oklahoma, weather infrastructure needs of the Southeastern United States, and potential improvements in government responses to extreme weather events. An opening statement from Committee Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) and a recording of the hearing can be found on the SST Committee website.

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Posted in Issue 19 (October 1), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

National Academies Calls for Better Integration of Social and Behavioral Science into Weather Enterprise

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) has released a new consensus report, Integrating Social and Behavioral Sciences Within the Weather Enterprise. Sponsored by the National Weather Service and the Office of Weather and Air Quality within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Highway Administration, the report acknowledges a “growing recognition that a host of social and behavioral factors determine how we prepare for, observe, predict, respond to, and are impacted by weather hazards” and that research and findings from the social and behavioral sciences must be better incorporated into the systems we use to predict and communicate information about the weather and hazards. The report proposes a framework for accomplishing this goal that includes ensuring the social sciences are represented in the leadership of weather organizations, building capacity to support social science research throughout the weather enterprise through sustained funding and professional support, and focusing on research to fill knowledge gaps, particularly system-level studies of the weather enterprise; risk assessment and responses; and message design, delivery, interpretation, and use. The complete report is available on the National Academies website.

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Posted in Issue 22 (November 14), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

Alliance for Integrative Approaches to Extreme Environmental Events Accepting Nominations for Steering Committee

The Alliance for Integrative Approaches to Extreme Environmental Events, a new organization of stakeholders seeking to improve our understanding, prediction of, and response to extreme environmental events, is soliciting applications and nominations for individuals to serve as inaugural members of its steering committee. Read on for more details on how the Alliance and how to submit nominations. Applications are due on February 28, 2017. (more…)

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Posted in Issue 3 (February 7), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

Community Launches the Alliance for Integrative Approaches to Extreme Environmental Events

The framework for an informal public-private partnership, involving a wide array of partner-stakeholders focused on reducing societal harm from extreme environmental events, was announced today, Jan. 24, 2017, during the Annual Meeting of the American Meteorological Society in Seattle, Washington.

Known as The Alliance for Integrative Approaches to Extreme Environmental Events, this community-initiated and community-governed framework will bring together a broad group of collaborators– including researchers, operational practitioners, federal agencies including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, non-profit organizations, philanthropists and entrepreneurs – to improve holistic understanding, prediction of and response to severe and hazardous weather. In addition, the Alliance will facilitate interdisciplinary research, and its associated transition to practice, in ways that advance the community’s collective agenda.

The Alliance was crafted in response to multiple community recommendations, particularly those made in response to several community workshops focused on integrating meteorology with social and behavioral sciences. The guiding plan for the Alliance was developed as a community-wide activity led by a “writing team,” drawn from the international community of researchers and practitioners across a diverse array of disciplines. A volunteer steering committee will oversee the Alliance, and a small paid professional staff will provide day-to-day management.

“The strength of the Alliance lies in its philosophy of serving as an organizing mechanism to bring sectors, organizations and individuals together to work in an integrative fashion; in its emphasis on rapidly translating outcomes into operational practice, in its community-based governance, and in its emphasis on supporting activities that provide practical benefits for addressing needs that heretofore have gone unmet,” explained Kelvin Droegemeier, Vice President for Research at the University of Oklahoma and one of the Alliance organizers.

The Alliance is being initiated by a $3 million private gift from ImpactWX, a private social impact fund based in Toronto, Canada, with the expectation that the Alliance will obtain additional, long-term funding from a wide array of sources for a true multi-sector partnership.

More details can be found at the Alliance web site:

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Posted in Issue 2 (January 24), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

New Social Science-Extreme Weather Research Alliance Being Formed, Input Sought

A new public-private research partnership is taking shape, looking specifically at the interdisciplinary and highly complex challenges associated with extreme weather events. The Alliance for Social-Behavioral Systems and Extreme Environmental Events (The Alliance) is the product of several years of community workshops, reports and other discussions on ways in which to bring the social, behavioral, and economic sciences to bear on helping society better “understand, prepare for, mitigate, and respond and adapt to extreme environmental events.” The most recent workshop, held in May 2015, served as an impetus for The Alliance as it is now conceptualized. It will be formally launched around November 1.

The Alliance will not become a new research center, nor is it intended to compete with existing research organizations for limited federal research funds. Instead, it will serve as a convener of diverse stakeholder communities (including researchers, emergency managers, Federal and state governments, private industry, and foundations) to tackle these issues using a holistic scientific approach (to include the social sciences, physical sciences, engineering, and technology). With this in mind, an Organization and Start-Up Plan for The Alliance has been released for public comment, which is due by October 1 (public comment can be submitted through email). In addition, two teleconferences have been scheduled to allow for additional public input and will occur on September 16 at 11:30-12:30 am and September 22 at 2:00-3:00 pm. The call-in details are posted on this website.

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Posted in Issue 17 (September 6), Update, Volume 35 (2016)

New Academies Study on Advancing Social and Behavioral Science within the Weather Enterprise Seeks Committee Members

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine has announced a new study, “Advancing Social and Behavioral Science Research and Application within the Weather Enterprise,” and is seeking nominees to serve on the study committee. The goal of the study is to “to develop a framework for generating and applying social and behavioral science (SBS) research within the context of meteorology, weather forecasting, and weather preparedness and response.” The Academies is particularly interested in candidates with expertise in the following fields: weather forecasting, meteorological research, behavioral economics, communication research, decision making, risk perception, assessment and communication, human factors and product design, disaster and risk management and response, meteorology education and work force development, and weather institutions and policy. More information on submitting nominations is available here. Nominations are due by April 13, 2016.

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Posted in Issue 7 (April 5), Update, Volume 35 (2016)


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