2nd WMO/WWRP weather and society conference

Organizer(s) World Meteorological Organization (WMO)

The second Weather and Society Conference is being organised by the Societal and Economic Research Applications (SERA) Working Group of the WMO World Weather Research Program (WWRP) in collaboration with DWD’s Hans Ertel Centre for Weather Research. The Conference has a focus on science to services and will provide an opportunity to share social science insight and innovation with the broader hydrometeorological community.

Session 1: Risk knowledge and management

Convener: Julio Postigo (Indiana University, USA), Joanne Robbins (Met Office, UK), Machiel Lamers (Wageningen University, Netherlands)

Knowledge about risk is an essential component in the provision and use of early warning systems. For early warning systems to be salient and effective they need to be built on, and connected to, locally-grounded or indigenous understandings of hazards, vulnerabilities, livelihoods, and exposure to weather dynamics, in order to situate disaster warnings to specific contexts. Risk knowledge and management is thereby not just the domain of scientific or professional experts, but most impactful when incorporating a specific focus on understanding risk from the perspective of those who are most vulnerable and those who can help mitigate it. For many groups and communities in the world, particularly in the global south, having access to disaster risk information or accurate forecasts or warnings in an intuitive and actionable format is no guarantee. Many countries do not have early warning systems as part of national legislation and regulatory frameworks for emergency response, despite the rising need for effective information systems. 

This session calls for presentations on experiences from around the globe on:

  • the inclusion of different types of knowledge in the provision of early warnings, 
  • practical examples of how to make early warnings available for vulnerable groups,
  • studies on the political and governance implications of risk knowledge,
  • research on the socioeconomic benefits of multihazard early warning systems

Session 2: Observations and forecasting

Convener: Henning Rust (FU Berlin, Germany), Don Nelson (University of Georgia, USA), Tobias Geiger (Deutscher Wetterdienst, Germany)

Within the framework of WMO’s "Early Warnings for All" initiative, this session aims to contribute to a deeper understanding of the role of robust forecast and monitoring systems for hazard monitoring and early warnings. In the forecasting area, many countries lack the capacity to incorporate an impact-based approach to forecasting and still have challenges in accessing, analyzing and translating prediction model outputs into actionable warning messages. The underlying reasons are multiple, e.g., including data issues, modeling and communication challenges or co-production and knowledge gaps. This session aims to assemble experienced practitioners, researchers and decision makers in this field to report on novel developments, best-practices but also relevant obstacles from their perspective. While for many actors the relevant focus lies on the weather forecasting scale, the outcome for and the experiences from the climate forecasting community on sub-seasonal to seasonal scales become ever more relevant on this matter, e.g., in the realm of anticipatory action. We encourage an integrative, interdisciplinary and internationally-comprehensive exchange with contributions from social science, humanities, and interdisciplinary research related to the following topics:

  • Gap analyzes on early warning needs (national, regional)
  • Co-production and transdisciplinary approaches to develop impact-based forecasts
  • Latest research and developments on statistical and physical weather impact models and the underlying data challenges
  • The use of impact forecasts to aid the decision-making process for issuing warnings
  • Seamless (impact) forecast activities and challenges from the weather to the (sub-)seasonal forecast scale
  • Decision-making under uncertainties - including topics related to forecasting and modelling uncertainties, appropriate strategic responses, and emergent patterns of social vulnerability to hazards
  • Integrating citizen science and crowdsourcing observations in weather and impact forecasts
  • Interdisciplinary approaches integrating satellite observations, global data processing, forecasting, and analysis systems
  • Enhancing equity through the development and implementation of forecast and early warning systems
  • Good practices and guidelines for enhanced data access and data interoperability

Session 3: Dissemination and communication

Convener: Thomas Kox (Weizenbaum-Institute, Germany), Isadora Jiménez (Lobelia Earth, Spain), Carla Mooney (Bureau of Meteorology, Australia)

The role of early warning systems, at all time scales, is to provide actionable, timely information through appropriate channels to mitigate the impacts of hazards. Inclusive, people-centred approaches lead to the design and implementation of effective early warning systems. In this session, we will explore different aspects of the communication, collaboration, cooperation and mutual understanding between the weather and climate services community and different user groups such as the public or the emergency management community (e.g., civil protection, emergency management, firefighting, road or air safety).

This session encourages the sharing of empirical examples from practice as well as theoretical or conceptual contributions around the following aspects of the broader topic:

  • Policies, governance and socio-technical aspects that act as barriers or enablers for the dissemination of early warnings,
  • Scientific work on social, psychological and organisational factors affecting the understanding and use of weather and climate forecasts and warnings,
  • Research or practical examples on how to make information clear and usable regarding data, information and knowledge management in disseminating and communicating extreme weather and risks,
  • The role of probabilistic and/or impact forecasting in communicating risk information and extreme weather,
  • Engagement of weather services or other intermediaries with the broader emergency management community,
  • Insights from best practices from recent events,
  • The role of dissemination channels in ensuring reach to at-risk and vulnerable groups and communities.

Session 4: Preparedness to respond

Convener: Everisto Mapedza (International Water Management Institute, South Africa), Jelmer Jeuring (Norwegian Meteorological Institute, Norway), Marion Tan (Massey University, New Zealand)

In this session, we aim to explore social science research contributions fitting the fourth Pillar of the “Early Warning for All” programme ‘Preparedness to Respond’. The Preparedness to Respond approach is specifically concerned with those factors that ensure the successful translation of early warnings into life-saving actions. The EW4ALL programme envisions a spectrum of factors that result in reduced losses and harm, ranging from people’s individual and gendered risk preparedness and response capacity to a warning, to the vital involvement of national and local stakeholders.

We invite contributions from social science, humanities, and interdisciplinary research that are concerned with the Preparedness to Respond approach. More specifically, we hope to have a transdisciplinary session in which methods, approaches and best practices are co-designed and shared which address one or more of the topics described below:

  • Policy factors that feed into comprehensive risk management policy, laws and strategies;
  • Technical factors that enhance local preparedness and response capacities;
  • Financial factors that allow for anticipatory action;
  • How are local capacities and knowledge integrated in preparedness to respond
  • Methods and examples on how to assess if people are prepared and ready to react to warnings
  • Practical examples of how response plans are tested and kept up to date
  • Monitoring and evaluation of current status of policy, technical and financial factors in relation to implementation of Early Warning mechanisms;
  • Partnerships and collaboration at local, regional, national and global levels that facilitate response preparedness.

Session 5: Monitoring and evaluation

Convener: Beth Ebert (Bureau of Meteorology, Australia), Adriaan Perrels (Tyrsky Consulting, Finland), David Hoffmann (Bureau of Meteorology, Australia)

As the landscape of weather warnings and climate services grows increasingly intricate, both in technical and organisational dimensions, the concept of the value chain emerges as a crucial tool for evaluating the utility and net benefits of these services, both for society at large and for specific actors, including service providers and users. Within the framework of WMO’s "Early Warnings for All" initiative, this session aims to contribute to a deeper understanding of monitoring and evaluation to enhance the effectiveness of early warning systems, including:

  • Understanding the Warning Value Chain: Exploring the intricacies of value chains in weather services, emphasising relationships, processes, inputs, outcomes, and operational contexts of each stakeholder within the warning chain.
  • Methods for Analysis: Discussing diverse analytical methods for value chain assessment, revealing different characteristics and contributing to a comprehensive understanding of service design, and proposing options for improvement, considering the sequence of scientific disciplines involved.
  • Case Studies: Highlighting the effectiveness of value chain approaches through case studies on high-impact weather events by examining the tools, processes, partnerships, and infrastructure embedded in existing warning chains. Showcasing successes and failures, providing evidence to identify shortfalls and propose investments in new capabilities and partnerships. Both ex-ante studies (for new services) and ex-post studies (for services already in use for at least some time) are welcome.

We invite submissions of abstracts until 21 December 2023 that align with the above themes, as well as challenges, gaps, and opportunities arising from the application of value chains in the evaluation of early warning systems.

Post conference workshop: Cross-cutting enablers, particularly partnerships and locally led action

Convener: Carina Fearnley (University College London, UK), Ilan Kelman (University College London, UK; University of Agder, Norway)

Warning for all must mean enabling everyone to support their and others’ warning process on their own terms. This session seeks contributions explaining how to do so in theory and practice, either what should be done or examples of what has been done, balancing successes and areas to improve. Specific cross-cutting enablers include but are not limited to:

  • Inclusivity and intersectionality: Accounting for individuals’ and groups’ characteristics that support and impede the warning process.
  • Integration: Components of warnings should rarely be separated as standalone elements invoked without prior work. Instead, they ought to be connected to daily life and livelihoods, becoming part of people’s typical experiences.
  • Imagination: Creativity and exchange are important to learn from each other, to offer ideas to each other, and to consider the warning process beyond what we might be used to.
  • Initiative and leadership: Everyone can offer contributions and everyone must learn from each other, often taking the initiative and leadership to become a student and to become a teacher.
  • Ensuring that the warning process starts with people, referring to The First Mile of warning systems rather than The Last Mile.
  • Considering all time and space scales, so late warning systems and medium warning systems in addition to early warning systems.
  • Focusing on multi-vulnerability warning systems to incorporate but move beyond multi-hazard warning systems.

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