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When Weather Matters: Science and Services to Meet Critical Societal Needs
NRC, 1998b, 2006a), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Science Advisory Board (NSAB, 2003, 2009), the World Meteorological Organization (Rogers et al., 2007), the international THORPEX1 program (Morss et al., 2008b; Shapiro and Thorpe, 2004), and USWRP PDT reports (Emanuel et al., 1995; Pielke et al., 1997). Yet the 2009 BASC Summer Study workshop represented the first time that socioeconomic issues have been discussed as a core priority in weather prediction research and R2O at the level of an NRC committee and workshop. Integration of socioeconomic considerations was viewed by workshop participants from a variety of disciplines and backgrounds as important in general for meeting weather community and societal needs, and more specifically to address the established and emerging weather research and R2O needs that are identified in Chapters 3 and 4 of this report. Achieving this integration requires incorporating knowledge and tools from the social sciences.
The social sciences are an assembly of scientific disciplines that address social and economic issues with rigorous theory and methods. These disciplines each have specific knowledge, approaches, and expertise that can contribute substantively to the goal of understanding society’s weather-related needs and providing usable weather information to stakeholders, including public officials, industry, and members of the public. Social science disciplines that can benefit weather research and R2O include economics, human geography, political science, public policy, communication, anthropology, sociology, and psychology. Interdisciplinary fields that integrate social and physical sciences, such as environmental science, risk communication, and natural hazards, can also make important contributions to producing usable weather information.
Although this chapter focuses mostly on information related to weather forecasts, current and historical weather information also have significant societal value. Examples include the use of wind data for siting wind energy facilities and information about past hazardous weather events for public-and private-sector management of future hazardous weather risks. The priorities and mechanisms discussed below are also applicable to benefit the use and value of these types of weather information.
Societal needs have a long history of being considered in weather prediction, and during the past 15 years, socioeconomic issues in weather predic-
THORPEX originally was denoted as “The Observing System Research and Predictability Experiment,” but that terminology is no longer used.