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Uncertainty pervades the prediction and experience of hazardous weather.  It emerges in the development of weather research and models, the construction and communication of forecasts, the interpretation of those forecasts and perceptions of weather risks, and in the complex process of responding to and recovering from hazardous weather. While uncertainty is inherent to meteorological processes and our ability to predict them, there are also more entangled sources of social and cultural ambiguity that emerge, interact, and propagate throughout the lifecycle of hazardous weather events.

Significant research exists within the field of risk communication regarding meteorological uncertainty in weather forecasts, how it is communicated, and how it is understood, but less attention has been paid to these other types of uncertainty. People engaged at any stage of the process from prediction to recovery – including atmospheric scientists, operational forecasters, emergency managers, broadcasters, and members of the public – interpret, infer, and consider uncertainty in their perceptions and decision making. However, little is known about how to identify or characterize the non-meteorological variables that are always relevant to decision-making in the face of a forecast or warning.

This project brings together experts and practitioners from across the social and natural sciences to examine how further social science research can enrich our understanding of context, communication, and social dynamics that ultimately impact decision-making and behavior during extreme weather events.

Project Coordinators:

Julie Demuth

Project Scientist, Mesoscale and Microscale Meteorology Laboratory, National Center for Atmospheric Research

Jennifer Henderson 

Postdoctoral Fellow, Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences

Heather Lazrus

Project Scientist, Mesoscale and Microscale Meteorology Laboratory, National Center for Atmospheric Research