A Workshop Summary

Communicating Uncertainties in Weather and Climate Information

Elbert W.Friday, Jr., Rapporteur

Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate

Division on Earth and Life Studies

NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
Washington, D.C. www.nap.edu



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement



Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.

OCR for page R1
A Workshop Summary Communicating Uncertainties in Weather and Climate Information A Workshop Summary Communicating Uncertainties in Weather and Climate Information Elbert W.Friday, Jr., Rapporteur Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate Division on Earth and Life Studies NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS Washington, D.C. www.nap.edu

OCR for page R1
A Workshop Summary Communicating Uncertainties in Weather and Climate Information THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS 500 Fifth Street, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20001 NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this summary was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the group responsible for the planning of the workshop were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. Support for this project was provided by the National Science Foundation and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration under Grant No. ATM-0135923, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under Grant No. X-82875501, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration under Contract No. 50-DGNA-1-90024. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the sponsors or their subagencies. International Standard Book Number 0-309-08540-3 Additional copies of this report are available from the National Academies Press, 500 Fifth Street, N.W., Lockbox 285, Washington, DC 20055; (800) 624–6242 or (202) 334–3313 (in the Washington metropolitan area); Internet, http://www.nap.edu. Cover: Tornado near Verden, Oklahoma, as it progressed on to Oklahoma City, May 3, 1999. Copyright by Howard B.Bluestein. Copyright 2003 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America

OCR for page R1
A Workshop Summary Communicating Uncertainties in Weather and Climate Information THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Bruce M.Alberts is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Wm.A.Wulf is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V.Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce M.Alberts and Dr. Wm.A.Wulf are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council. www.national-academies.org

OCR for page R1
A Workshop Summary Communicating Uncertainties in Weather and Climate Information This page in the original is blank.

OCR for page R1
A Workshop Summary Communicating Uncertainties in Weather and Climate Information BOARD ON ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCES AND CLIMATE ERIC J.BARRON (chair), Pennsylvania State University, University Park SUSAN K.AVERY,* University of Colorado/CIRES, Boulder RAYMOND J.BAN, The Weather Channel, Inc., Atlanta, Georgia HOWARD B.BLUESTEIN, University of Oklahoma, Norman STEVEN F.CLIFFORD, University of Colorado/CIRES, Boulder GEORGE L.FREDERICK, Vaisala, Inc., Boulder, Colorado JUDITH L.LEAN, Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, D.C. MARGARET A.LEMONE, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado MARIO J.MOLINA, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge ROGER A.PIELKE, JR.,* University of Colorado/CIRES, Boulder MICHAEL J.PRATHER, University of California, Irvine WILLIAM J.RANDEL, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado ROBERT T.RYAN,* WRC-TV, Washington, D.C. THOMAS F.TASCIONE, Sterling Software, Bellevue, Nebraska ROBERT A.WELLER,* Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Massachusetts ERIC F.WOOD,* Princeton University, New Jersey Ex Officio Members EUGENE M.RASMUSSON, University of Maryland, College Park ERIC F.WOOD, Princeton University, New Jersey NRC Staff CHRIS ELFRING, Director ELBERT W. (JOE) FRIDAY, JR., Senior Scholar LAURIE S.GELLER, Senior Program Officer PETER A.SCHULTZ, Senior Program Officer VAUGHAN C.TUREKIAN, Program Officer ELIZABETH A.GALINIS, Project Assistant ROB GREENWAY, Project Assistant DIANE L.GUSTAFSON, Administrative Associate ROBIN MORRIS, Financial Officer *   Through December 2001

OCR for page R1
A Workshop Summary Communicating Uncertainties in Weather and Climate Information This page in the original is blank.

OCR for page R1
A Workshop Summary Communicating Uncertainties in Weather and Climate Information Preface Each year, typically in the summer, the Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate selects a topic for special study (often called our “summer study"). Our goal is to organize an informal workshop where scientists and agency staff can share information about current issues in the atmospheric sciences, meteorology, and climate. These events are a forum for frank discussions and creative interaction, and sometimes lead us to develop more in-depth activities. Based on a suggestion from the Federal Committee for Meteorological Services and Supporting Research, a committee chaired by the Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) whose members include senior policy executives of the 14 federal agencies that are producers or users of weather and climate information, the topic selected for the August 2001 summer study was the growing concern for the proper communication of uncertainties in weather and climate information. We elected to use a series of case studies to look at actual examples of the communication of weather information and to see if these examples could provide insights that might lead, in time, to new ideas and approaches. This report is the product of the workshop held at the J.Erik Jonsson Woods Hole Center in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, August 7–11, 2001, and was sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and National Science Foundation. The agenda for the workshop is presented in Appendix A and workshop participants are identified in Appendix B. As the product of a workshop, this report does not contain findings or recommendations but instead represents an overview of discussions that occurred during the work-

OCR for page R1
A Workshop Summary Communicating Uncertainties in Weather and Climate Information shop. Each case study does contain a section, “Remaining Challenges,” that summarizes what the workshop participants saw as critical next steps. In addition, a new National Research Council report on public-private partnerships in weather and climate services (expected mid 2003) will provide detailed discussion of the relationships among the key participants in weather forecasting (i.e., the public, private, and academic sectors). The National Academies and the Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate wish to thank the speakers and participants who contributed their time and energy to this workshop. This kind of activity is an important mechanism for focusing discussion on issues and highlighting opportunities for future work. Chris Elfring Director, BASC

OCR for page R1
A Workshop Summary Communicating Uncertainties in Weather and Climate Information Acknowledgment of Reviewers This workshop summary has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the National Research Council’s Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published summary as sound as possible and to ensure that the summary meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the workshop charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their review of this summary: Lance Bosart, State University of New York, Albany; Stanley Changnon, Illinois State Water Survey; Robert Ryan, WRC-TV, Washington, D.C.; and Jack Williams, USA Today. Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations from the speakers nor did they see the final draft of the summary before its release. The review of this summary was overseen by Marvin Geller, State University of New York, Stony Brook. Appointed by the National Research Council, he was responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this summary was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this summary rests entirely with the author and the institution.

OCR for page R1
A Workshop Summary Communicating Uncertainties in Weather and Climate Information This page in the original is blank.

OCR for page R1
A Workshop Summary Communicating Uncertainties in Weather and Climate Information Contents 1   BACKGROUND   1     The Cases Selected for Study,   2 2   CASE STUDIES   5     Red River of the North Flood, Grand Forks, April 1997,   5     East Coast Winter Storm, March 2001,   11     Oklahoma-Kansas Tornado Outbreak, May 3, 1999,   21     El Niño 1997–1998,   27     Climate Change Science: An Analysis of Some Key Questions, June 2001,   33 3   LESSONS LEARNED FROM THE CASE STUDIES   39     Considerations Before a Forecast is Issued,   39     Considerations During the Release of Forecasts and Information,   41     REFERENCES   43     ACRONYMS AND ABBREVIATIONS   45     APPENDIXES     A   WORKSHOP AGENDA   47 B   WORKSHOP PARTICIPANTS   51 C   WEATHER EVENT TIMELINES   53

OCR for page R1
A Workshop Summary Communicating Uncertainties in Weather and Climate Information This page in the original is blank.