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A Workshop Summary Communicating Uncertainties in Weather and Climate Information APPENDIX A Workshop Agenda J.Erik Jonsson Woods Hole Center of the National Academy of Sciences 314 Quissett Avenue, The Carriage House Woods Hole, Massachusetts August 7–11, 2001 Agenda Note 1: The agenda as presented is general, with no explicit times allocated for any item. The subjects are listed in the order in which they will be covered in the summer study, but the agenda is flexible to permit in-depth pursuit of an issue if needed or less time devoted to less difficult issues. A study may carry over to the next day if the discussion warrants. All participants are encouraged to actively engage in the discussion items and the presentations. Note 2: Each day the meeting will begin at 8:30A.M. and end at approximately 5:00 P.M. On Saturday, August 11, the study will conclude at approximately 1:00 P.M. Tuesday, August 7 8:30 A.M. Welcome and introductions (Eric Barron) Logistics for the meeting (Joe Friday, Diane Gustafson)
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A Workshop Summary Communicating Uncertainties in Weather and Climate Information Scope of the workshop (Eric Barron) The workshop will examine methods of communicating uncertainties in the provision of weather and climate information. The workshop will examine several case studies to illuminate the various issues associated with the proper communication of weather and climate forecasts. The workshop will examine the nature of the forecasts, the methods of determining uncertainties, and the communication of those uncertainties. It will also examine the public reaction and response to the events and explore successes and failures of the communication process. Science Communications Framework for Environment Canada (Presentation by Richard Anthes) In 1998 Environment Canada’s Science and Technology (S&T) Advisory Board focused on science communications as an area for attention and advice to their Deputy Minister. The Advisory Board initiated a lessons-learned analysis of science communications associated with key environmental issues faced by Environment Canada in the past and used this analysis as input for the development of this science communications framework, which also includes recommendations for future action. A working group co-chaired by two Environment Canada Advisory Board members, Peter Calamai and Richard Anthes, was established to oversee the preparation of this document and to formulate key recommendations for discussion by the S&T Advisory Board. General Considerations in Communications (Discussion led by Robert Ryan) Over the past 5 to 10 years weather and weather- and climate related stories have become a leading theme and topic for local, national, cable, and other media news sources. Various media surveys of viewers and listeners show that the number one reason people watch local television news programs (at most times), seek information on the Internet, or listen to radio is to get weather forecasts and information. 6:00 P.M. Reception hosted by Bob and Susan Gagosian, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Clark Building, Room 507
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A Workshop Summary Communicating Uncertainties in Weather and Climate Information Wednesday, August 8 8:30 A.M. Case Study 1: The Spring 1997 Grand Forks and Fargo Floods (Discussion led by Lee Anderson and Roger Pielke, Jr.) This case was one of a flood event predicted well in advance through the spring outlook. The subsequent forecasts issued by the NWS were of record floods, but they were perceived by the emergency managers and the public as being misleading and incorrect. The case will examine what lessons were learned from the event and the changes in communications methods made as a result. Case Study 2: The March 2001 East Coast Storm (Discussion led by Raymond Ban, Robert Ryan, and James Hoke) This case was one of a scientifically good forecast of a major East Coast winter storm, predicted well in advance. The communications of the event in the Washington, D.C., area were such that the public expected a major snowstorm in the local area, but it did not materialize. The forecast process lost a considerable amount of credibility as a result. The case examines the actual forecast uncertainty, the communication of that uncertainty to the media, and the relay of that information to the public. 5:00 P.M. Reception at the Main House Thursday, August 9 8:30 A.M. Case Study 3: Climate Change Science: An Analysis of Some Key Questions (Discussion led by Eric Barren and Vaughan Turekian) This case will consider the recently completed NRC report that was requested by the White House to inform them of the state of the science in the area of greenhouse warming. The review will examine the process used in the preparation of the report, the response of the administration to the report, and the characterization of the report by the press and various special interest groups. Case Study 4: The May 3rd Oklahoma Tornado Outbreak (Discussion led by Howard Bluestein and James Lee) This case deals with rapidly developing situations that literally saturate the communications mechanisms to the public. The re-
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A Workshop Summary Communicating Uncertainties in Weather and Climate Information quirement for rapid communication of life-saving information with minimal ambiguity will be explored through this example. What worked well and not so well will be explored. Friday, August 10 8:30 A.M. Case Study 5: The 1997–1998 El Niño (Discussion led by Stanley Changnon and James Laver) This case represents the first major forecast of a significant “climate” event. The development of the seasonal to interannual forecasting capability coincided with the onset of the “climate event of the century.” The ability to communicate the meaning of this new forecast information, the implications and impacts of the event, the media, and the public reactions will be examined. Future implications for NWS will be discussed. Saturday, August 11 8:30 A.M. Discussion of common themes and lessons learned 1:00 P.M. Meeting adjourns
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