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past forecasts, and by knowledge of adaptive coping strategies
and beliefs in their effectiveness. To the extent that such
expectations, interpretations, and knowledge are found to affect
the use of climate forecasts, research should address how accurate
expectations can be created and how an appropriate behavioral
repertoire can be established by educational and informational
interventions. To the extent that perceptions, expectations, and
beliefs are identified that act as barriers to the effective use of
climate forecasts, research should address how to alter those by
appropriately organized information or education. To the extent
that surprising (i.e., unexpected) outcomes are found to be
required to motivate individuals or organizations to modify their
beliefs and behavior, research should examine how to provide such
educational surprises at small costs. Comparative studies of these
questions across cultures and sectors may be particularly
informative, as they have the advantage of distinguishing between
components of those processes that are universally shared and those
that are culture- or situation-specific.
One promising approach to these questions is through case
studies of responses to short-range forecasts and to forecasts of
the 1997-1998 El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) warm
phase. Such research might examine how forecast information was
delivered by scientists, the mass media, private information
vendors, and others; who had access to the information; and how the
information was received, understood, and used. It might test
hypotheses developed from analogous situations to draw tentative
conclusions about which characteristics of forecast information and
its delivery increase its use by particular classes of recipients.
Other kinds of studies, including experimental ones, can refine
such tentative hypotheses and conclusions.
Research on these questions can be helpful in designing messages
that convey climate forecast information in ways that are
compatible with recipients' mental models, that accurately
represent uncertainty and probability, and that do not mislead them
about the level of skill the forecasts contain. Involvement of
forecast user groups in such research is likely to increase the
practical value of the findings.
4. How do organizations interpret
climatic information and react to climate forecasts? What are the
roles of organizational routines, cultures, structures, and
responsibilities in the use and acceptance of forecasts?
These questions parallel those under question 3. The research
would address the same questions, but it would focus on
organizational behavior. Among the important organizations for
study are firms in climate-sensitive sectors, organizations that
provide coping mechanisms (e.g., in-