Societal Impacts of Weather and Climate


We envision the integration of social sciences throughout the Weather and Climate Enterprise, where the impacts of weather and climate on society are more fully understood, leading to improved decision making. If you as a member have suggestions for how we may serve the Society in specific ways, please email the Chair, Jen Henderson.

The Committee’s mission is to:

  • Advise and serve the NWA in matters related to societal impacts of weather and climate;
  • Raise awareness, encourage, and support efforts within the NWA relating to societal impacts of weather and climate;
  • Support the application of social science principles into operational meteorology and decision support for hazardous weather and high impact events, as well as day-to-day forecasting and operations; and
  • Develop and strengthen relationships between social scientists, operational meteorologists, and decision makers, particularly those responsible for public safety.

The Committee will achieve its mission by:

  • Participating in the NWA Annual Meeting and other NWA sponsored or co-sponsored conferences and workshops to share recent research and applications and enhance dialogue about societal impacts of weather and climate;
  • Engaging in educational activities concerning the societal impacts of weather and climate and its application to decision making processes;
  • Interacting with and serving as a resource for other NWA Committees regarding activities and initiatives that involve societal impacts. For example, this could include: design, implementation and analysis of surveys; development of conference sessions, web page content, and outreach projects and materials;
  • Facilitating partnerships between meteorology, climatology, and social science communities (including multi-disciplinary groups such as WAS*IS) to advance applied research on the societal impacts of weather and climate and the application to hydrometeorological forecasting and decision support.
  • Providing advice, information and policy statements to the NWA Council on matters concerning societal impacts of weather and climate.

Committee Members:

Jen Henderson, Chair
Western Water Assessment/CIRES
Boulder, CO

Tyra Brown Harris
Silver Spring, MD

Rob D'Arienzo
Armonk, NY

Doug Hilderbrand
Silver Spring, MD

Taylor Trogdon
Cyberdata Technologies/National Hurricane Center
Miami, FL

Mark Fox
National Weather Service
WFO Dallas/Fort Worth
Forth Worth, TX

Castle Williams
University of Georgia
Athens, GA

Jessica Fieux
National Weather Service
Tallahassee, FL

Nate Hardin
Boulder, CO

Minh Phan
East Carolina University
Greenville, NC


Highlights and Headlines

Extreme Events Reconnaissance: Social Science and Interdisciplinary Research in the Disaster Aftermath

Lori Peek, Director of the Natural Hazards Center and Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Colorado Boulder, presented on "Extreme Events Reconnaissance: Social Science and Interdisciplinary Research in the Disaster Aftermath."  She detailed a new NSF funded grant that will help to ultimately "prepare individual researchers and teams to carry out extreme events rapid reconnaissance research that is coordinated, comprehensive, coherent, ethical and scientifically rigorous." To view the webcast from this presentation, visit the CSTPR Seminars page and click on the Webcast associated with Lori Peek's presentation. Note, you will have to download Adobe Connect to view the presentation. --March 2018


Natural Hazard Mitigation Saves: 2017 Interim Report

The National Institute of Building Sciences recently issued the Natural Hazard Mitigation Saves: 2017 Interim Report in December 2017.  This report reviews mitigation techniques and studies building designs, the effect of mitigation strategies on deaths and injuries and jobs created through mitigation. One interesting fact in the report is that they found that "mitigation funding can save the nation $6 in future disaster costs, for every $1 spent on hazard mitigation." --March 2018



AMS Talks Emphasize Critical Incident Stress in Operational Forecaster Community  

In January 2018, the American Meteorological Association Annual meeting was held in Austin, Texas. One emphasis of town halls and oral presentations was the lasting effects of the 2017 hurricane season on towns and cities and on the weather community itself. One talk by NWS employee Christina Crowe emphasized Critical Incident Stress and the need for forecasters to look for signs of PTSD and other anxiety disorders among their colleagues and to seek resources to care for each other. Other follow on conversations, like those facilitated by Minh Phan and Castle Williams, members of the Societal Impacts Committee and hosts of WeatherHype podcast, illustrate the need to re-examine how we as a weather community care for our own members, as well as for the predictive needs of society. --January 2018


National Academy of Sciences Releases Report on Integrating Social Sciences with Meteorology

In November 2017, the National Academies of Sciences released a Consensus Study Report based on a 15-month-long assessment of the current state of social sciences integration into meteorology, ongoing challenges, and new frameworks. The purpose of the report, the authors note, is to "offer guidance to government agencies and other institutions in the weather enterprise, on strategies for effectively integrating social and behavioral science knowledge and its application into meteorology, weather forecasting, and hazard preparedness. A four-page summary can be found here; the full report is available on the NAS website for free.  --December, 2017



Previous Highlights

NOAA Cites 2017 as a Year that Ties 2011 for the Most Billion-Dollar Disasters

According to NOAA, 2017 ties the record year of 2011 for the most (15) billion-dollar disasters for the year to date. The site notes that "for the first 9 months (Jan-Sept) of 2017, the U.S. has experienced 15 separate billion-dollar weather and climate disasters.  The record number of billion-dollar disasters for an entire calendar year is 16 events set in 2011. The 2017 events include two floods, a freeze, seven severe storms, three tropical cyclones, a drought and wildfire - collectively causing 282 fatalities." These events included 1 drought event, 2 flooding events, 1 freeze event, 7 severe storm events, 3 tropical cyclone events, and 1 wildfire event. --December, 2017


Societal Impacts Committee Webinar — Multi-Sector Communication for Large Events: Decision Support Services and The Super Bowl

A webinar hosted by the NWA Societal Impacts committee is available for viewing via this link at Storify. The Storify captures the webinar discussion involving meteorological and policy experts from the National Weather Service and Earth Networks. The experts outlined their roles in providing Decision Support Services (DSS) and how different sectors of the Weather Enterprise are involved in supporting large events. These and related issues were discussed in light of a recent event: Super Bowl 2016.    -March 7, 2016


Better Integrating National Weather Service Partners: Examples from Northern Indiana

Strategies for bringing together partners in weather forecasting, communication, and decison making are among the topics summarized in the March issue of the NOAA/NWS Aware newsletter. The article covers three main areas: partner-driven forecaster workshops, Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) meetings, and focused Integrated Warning Team (IWT) workshops. Other articles examine the use of drones for storm damage assessment as well as partnership building for backcountry safety.    -March 25, 2016


Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences report: Increasing Sea Levels

Scientists have found that seas are now rising faster than they have in 2,800 years. According to a study by Bob Kopp at Rutgers University and his global team of co-authors, seas rose about 14 centimeters (5.5 inches) from 1900 to 2000, for a rate of 1.4 millimeters per year. The current rate as of early 2016, according to NASA, is 3.4 millimeters per year, suggesting that sea level rise is still accelerating.    -March 7, 2016


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