Is "Consistency" the Key to Weather Communication? The Role of Message Consistency in the Weather Enterprise - Dissertation Topic
Consistency and Weather Communication: A Multidisciplinary Perspective on the Use of "Consistency" - Oral Presentation at the American Meteorological Society Conference.
According to Mileti and Sorensen (1990), a warning's ability to encourage an individual to perform a given protective action is best evaluated among the following dimensions: warning source; warning channel; the consistency, credibility, accuracy, and understandability of the message; and the warning frequency. While most of these factors have been thoroughly investigated in the context of the weather enterprise, the consistency of weather messages has become a growing concern due to the mass availability of weather information via internet and mobile-based devices. Even though several professional panels of meteorologists have attempted to tackle this intricate concept, the idea of consistency within the weather community remains a formidable hurdle and each discussion only adds more complexity to this issue. Before determining whether the current state of weather messaging is “inconsistent,” we must first define “consistency,” or more importantly, “inconsistency” in the way we portray weather information. For example, “consistency” concerns in our community range from visual discrepancies in severe weather graphics to conflicting weather warning issuance criteria across WFOs and viewing area geographies. Therefore, this presentation will explore the concept of “consistency” through several different disciplines (warning and visual communication, advertising, website design, epistemology, among others) in hopes of identifying key conceptual definitions that can assist in defining, operationalizing and measuring “consistency” in the weather enterprise.
Children Forgotten in Hot Cars: A Mental Models Approach for Improving Public Health Messaging (August 2014-2017) Authors: Castle A. Williams & Andrew Grundstein: Injury Prevention (2017)
Introduction: On average, in the United States, 37 young children die every year due to vehicular heatstroke. Additionally, over half of these incidents occur when a parent/caregiver forgets a child in a vehicle. While various governmental and child safety advocacy groups have worked to raise awareness about these tragedies, rigorous studies have yet to be conducted that examine the current understanding and effectiveness of this public health messaging.
Methods: This study will employ a mental models approach in order to identify differences that exist between experts’ and parents’/caregivers’ knowledge and beliefs surrounding the topic of children forgotten in hot cars. We interviewed a diverse set of 25 parents/caregivers and seven experts, in order to construct and explore these mental models.
Results: A comparative analysis was conducted and three key differences were observed between these mental models. Unlike the experts, the parents/caregivers in the study emphasized perceived lifestyle factors (e.g., low-income parent) as important elements in increasing an individual’s likelihood of forgetting a child in a car. Importantly, the parents/caregivers primarily obtained information from news reports, while experts believed public health campaigns would reach more parents/caregivers. Lastly, while experts’ stressed that this tragedy could happen to anyone, most parents/caregivers failed to acknowledge that they could forget their own child in a car.
Conclusions: To confront this denial, future public health messaging must strive to engage and reach all parents/caregivers. This can be accomplished using a multi-faceted messaging strategy that includes: personalizing core messaging, providing additional resources to media outlets, and building rapport between key partners.
Throwing Caution to the Wind: National Weather Service Wind Products as Perceived by a Weather-Salient Sample (2015-2017) Authors: Castle A. Williams, Paul W. Miller, Alan W. Black, and John A. Knox; Journal of Operational Meteorology (2017)
Weather products generated by the National Weather Service (NWS) are crucial for communicating information about weather events. However, it is unclear if the public understands those that exclusively involve wind terminology or the risk posed by nonconvective wind events. To further investigate these questions, we surveyed 373 members of the public from Georgia and Virginia who regularly obtain weather information from two weather blogs in each of the states. Participants completed an online survey designed to evaluate their familiarity with NWS wind products (high wind warning and wind advisory), perceived wind speed thresholds associated with these products, willingness to change plans based on these products, and finally, weather salience.
It was found that our participants scored higher on the weather salience measure, compared to previous studies that examined the general public. In both states, these “weather-wise” individuals more frequently defined high wind warnings (58%) and wind advisories (32%) in terms of impacts to their daily lives. Respondents also reported that they would be more likely to alter their plans for a high wind watch compared to a wind advisory, providing evidence of a spectrum of understanding surrounding the NWS wind products. While various NWS initiatives are currently experimenting with the watch/warning/advisory system and impact-based messaging, this study identifies the need to continue and expand this line of research to include all weather hazards (those convective and nonconvective in nature).
Through the Eyes of the Experts: Meteorologists' Perception of the Probability of Precipitation (2013-2015) Authors: Alan Stewart, Castle A. Williams, Minh D. Phan, Alexandra Horst, Evan Knox, and John Knox
This project began as a collaboration during a summer research course combining psychology and the atmospheric science disciplines. We observed that among the professional meteorological community, varied meanings existed regarding the definition of PoP despite the survey respondents' indicating a high degree of confidence in their definitions. 43% of the online survey respondents believed that there was no or very little consistency in the definition of PoP; only 8% believed that the PoP definition has been used in a consistent manner. The respondents believed that PoP was limited in its value to the general public and that, on average, only 22% of the general population had an accurate conception of PoP. If you want to know more information regarding the research, you can look over the poster or listen to the recorded presentation.
The manuscript has been published and can be found here.
Also, if you are interested in communicating the Probability of Precipitation, you may want to check out a Town Hall I participated in at the 2016 American Meteorological Society National Conference here.
Regional Heat Safety Thresholds for Athletics in the Contiguous United States (2013-January 2015) Authors: Andrew Grundstein, Castle A. Williams, Minh D. Phan
This project was a collaboration with a societal impacts student researcher and my major professor, Dr. Andrew Grundstein. He had acquired a climatology of wet bulb globe temperature (WBGT) across the contiguous United States. Using this information, we were able to evaluate the trends and patterns across the United States and develop new athletic guidelines that accompany different areas of the country. It is our hope that this research can be used to alter outdoor practice policies and reduce overall heat stress-related incidents during athletic events. If you want to know more information regarding the research, you can look over the poster or listen to the recorded presentation.
Williams, C.A., and Grundstein, A.J. (2016, January). Turning up the Heat on Parents and Caregivers: Risk Perceptions of Forgetting a Child in a Hot Car. Oral presentation at the National American Meteorological Society Conference, New Orleans, LA. Received a Student Presentation Award from the Seventh Conference on Environment and Health.
Williams, C.A., Miller, P.W., Black, A.W., and Knox, J.A. (2016, January). Throwing Caution to the Wind: National Weather Service Wind Products as Perceived by a Weather-Savvy Public. Oral presentation at the National American Meteorological Society Conference, New Orleans, LA. Received Third Place at Large from the 11th Symposium on Societal Applications: Policy, Research, and Practice.
Williams, C.A., Miller, P.W., Black, A.W., Knox, J.A. (2015, October). Throwing Caution to the Wind: A Weather Savvy Perspective on Wind Terminology and Wind-Related Damage. Poster presentation at the National Weather Association Conference, Oklahoma City, OK.
Williams, C.A., Phan, M.D., Grundstein, A.J., Cooper, B. (2015, January). A Proposed Regional System of Categorizing Wet Bulb Globe Temperature for Athletic Outdoor Policy. Oral presentation at the National American Meteorological Society Conference, Phoenix, AZ.
Williams, C. A., Stewart, A.E., Phan, M.D., Horst, A.L., Knox, E., Knox, J.A. (2015, January). Through the Eyes of the Experts: The Perception of the Probability of Precipitation. Poster session presented at the National American Meteorological Society Student Conference, Phoenix, AZ.
Williams, C.A., Phan, M.D., Grundstein, A.J., Cooper, B. (2014, October). Geographically-Based Heat Safety Thresholds in Athletics. Oral presentation at the Applied Geography Conference, Atlanta, GA.
Phan, M.D., Williams, C.A., Grundstein, A.J., Cooper, B. (2014, September). A Proposed Regional System of Categorizing Wet Bulb Globe Temperature for Athletic Outdoor Policy. Oral presentation at the International Congress of Biometeorology, Cleveland, OH.
Williams, C. A., Stewart, A.E., Horst, A.L., Phan, M.D., Knox, E., Brough, B., Knox, J.A. (2014, April). Through the Eyes of the Experts: The Perception of the Probability of Precipitation. Poster session presented at University of Geography Geography Undergraduate Conference, Athens, GA.
Williams, C. A., Stewart, A.E., Horst, A.L., Phan, M.D., Knox, E., Brough, B., Knox, J.A. (2014, February). Through the Eyes of the Experts: The Perception of the Probability of Precipitation. Oral presentation at the National American Meteorological Conference, Atlanta, GA.
Phan, M.D., Williams, C.A., Grundstein, A.J., Cooper, B. (2014, February). Regional WBGT Heat Safety Thresholds for Athletics. Poster session presented at the National American Meteorological Student Conference, Atlanta, GA.
Williams, C.A., Phan, M.D., Grundstein, A.J., Cooper, B. (2013, November). An Investigation of Extreme Wet-Bulb Globe Temperatures Across the Contiguous United States. Poster session presented at the Southeastern Division of the Association of American Geographers, Roanoke, VA.
Grundstein, A., Williams, C.A, Phan, M., & Cooper, E. (2015). Regional heat safety thresholds for athletics in the contiguous United States. Applied Geography, 56, 55-60.
Stewart, A.E., Williams, C.A., Phan, M.D., Horst, A.L., Knox, E., Knox, J.A. (2016). Through the Eyes of the Experts: Meteorologists’ Perceptions of the Probability of Precipitation. Weather and Forecasting. In Press.
Miller, P.W., Black, A.W., Williams, C.A., and Knox, J.A., (2016). Maximum wind gusts associated with human-reported nonconvective wind events and a comparison to current warning issuance criteria. Weather and Forecasting. In Press.
Miller, P.W., Black, A.W., Williams, C.A., and Knox, J.A., (2016). Quantitative assessment of human wind speed overestimation. Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology. In Press.
Works in Progress:
Williams, C.A., and Grundstein, A.J., Children forgotten in hot cars: Current understanding and risk perceptions for improving public health messaging. Injury Prevention.Accepted.
Williams, C.A., Miller, P.W., Black, A.W., and J.A. Knox. Throwing caution to the wind: National Weather Service products as perceived by a weather-salient sample. Journal of Operational Meteorology. Accepted.
Knox, J. A., Gill, T.E., Williams, C. A., Boggs, L. V., Schumacher, E., Arney, K., Bagley, N., Boatman, I., Croft, J., Printup, J., Rackley, J., Scarborough, C., White, J., and Novlan, D.J., Castles in the Air: Meteorological Case Studies and Policy Implications of Bounce House Incidents. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (BAMS). In preparation.
For more information, please contact me at email@example.com