The research is the first comprehensive study of its kind to examine how the public perceives, uses, and values weather forecasts. Funded by the National Science Foundation, NCAR's sponsor, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the study appears in the June issue of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.
U.S. adults obtain an estimated 300 billion forecasts each year, says NCAR scientist and lead author Jeffrey Lazo. The study also reveals that most people are generally satisfied with weather forecasts and have fairly high confidence in forecasts with a lead time of one to two days.
"Weather forecasts equate to an enormous volume and multiplicity of information, when you account for the array of forecast providers, communication channels, and the size and diversity of the U.S. population," Lazo says.
Understanding how individuals use day-to-day weather information can help direct the development of more relevant and valuable weather forecasts and warnings by providers like the National Weather Service, he adds.
Gaining a better understanding of people's attitudes and behaviors toward forecasts also provides valuable information to forecasters and emergency managers.
"Better communication strategies can be developed for hazardous weather like hurricanes, winter storms, and floods," Lazo says. "Improved understanding will also help forecasters to communicate forecast uncertainty more effectively."
More than three forecasts a day
The Internet-based survey, conducted in November 2006, collected information about respondents' weather-related activities and experiences, as well as basic demographic information. Of the 1,520 individuals surveyed, 1,465 (96 percent) said they used weather forecasts.
Of those 1,465, 87.1 percent reported getting a forecast at least once a day on average, while 9.2 percent reported doing so once a day or less on average.
Although the number of forecasts a person obtains varies significantly from day to day, depending on factors like weather events and planned activities, the researchers found that on average survey participants received forecasts 3.8 times a day. These findings, when extrapolated to the total U.S. adult population of 226 million, indicate that Americans receive a yearly total of about 300 billion forecasts.
Valuing a forecast
The authors cautioned that it is difficult to put a dollar figure on the value of forecasts. However, the researchers asked respondents what they believed forecasts to be worth, presenting them with hypothetical amounts that they were currently paying in taxes and asking if they felt that value was correct, worth more, or worth less than the amount indicated.
Respondents indicated that, on a per-household basis, they would place an average value of about 10.5 cents on every forecast obtained. This equates to an annual value of $31.5 billion. In comparison, the cost of providing forecasts by government agencies and private companies is $5.1 billion, according to the paper.
"Our estimates indicate that Americans are getting a good deal on weather forecasts," says Lazo. "While it's hard to precisely estimate the value of the forecasts, it is clear that there is a significant difference between the cost of forecasts and the value that people place on them."
Fascination with the weather
Coauthor Julie Demuth, an NCAR associate scientist, says the study also reveals people's curiosity about the weather, with 85 percent of respondents saying that more than half the time they obtain forecasts simply to know what the weather will be like.
"This tells us that people generally have a high level of interest in weather forecasts, regardless of whether they are using this information directly for planning and decision making," says Demuth.
Many people use forecasts for planning specific activities, such as vacations, and routine daily activities, such as deciding what to wear and how to get to work or school. The peak periods for accessing forecasts are the early morning, early evening, and late evening, says Demuth.
The most common source for forecast information is local television stations, with individuals obtaining forecasts 33.7 times per month on average. Cable television and radio are the next most popular sources. Web pages and newspapers were less common sources overall, but both are a daily or more frequent source of forecasts for 27 percent of respondents.
"We should be doing this type of survey every two to three years so we can see what changes are happening, particularly in how people are using technology like mobile phones and the Internet to receive forecasts," says Lazo.
The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research manages the National Center for Atmospheric Research under sponsorship by the National Science Foundation. Any opinions, findings and conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
For reporters only:
To request a copy of the paper, send your name, organization, and phone number to David Hosansky at firstname.lastname@example.org, Rachael Drummond at email@example.com, or Stephanie Kenitzer at firstname.lastname@example.org.Title:
Rachael Drummond | Newswise Science News
Receding glaciers in Bolivia leave communities at risk
20.10.2016 | European Geosciences Union
UM researchers study vast carbon residue of ocean life
19.10.2016 | University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.
In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...
'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.
Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine
21.10.2016 | Information Technology
21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences